Amazon's New Home in New York a 'Distressed' Opportunity Zone

Concerns about the Opportunity Zone program created by the GOP tax bill passed in the waning hours of 2017—that it would enable gentrification and displacement for the profit of wealthy investors—won't be assuaged by this news.
November 21, 2018, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"In the eyes of the federal government, the census tract that will house Amazon’s new headquarters in New York is an 'opportunity zone,' eligible for tax credits meant to spur investment in low-income communities," according to an article by Jim Tankersley.

The fabric of Long Island City wouldn't strike many as "distressed" or "low-income"—the ostensible target neighborhoods of the opportunity zone program created by the "Investing in Opportunity Act" of 2017.

"There are wine bars and a cycling studio along the riverfront in Long Island City, among gleaming high-rise apartment buildings with views of Midtown Manhattan. The soon-to-open library branch is a modern art cube of concrete, the median income is $138,000 a year, and America’s hottest online retailer is about to move in," writes Tankersley.

The first news of the opportunity zones program seemed to provide a little progressive light in the GOP tax bill package mostly designed to provide sweeping tax breaks for corporations and individuals at the upper end of the tax bracket. Since then, however, concerns have grown that the program would only benefit wealthy investors, while exacerbating the effects of gentrification and displacement in neighborhoods.

Tankersley goes into a lot more detail about the context of both the opportunity zone program and the decision for Amazon to located in the neighborhood of Long island City.

Economic Innovation Group, the organization credited with the idea of the opportunity zone program, also published a blog post on Medium that digs into the HQ2, opportunity zone intersection in Long Island City.

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Published on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 in The New York Times
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