Experts: Why Newark (and Harrison and Jersey City) will be big winners if Amazon lands in New York

By Tom Bergeron
Newark | Nov 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

The news that Newark and the state of New Jersey are planning an aggressive push to land part of the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes shows the state’s key movers and shakers are being proactive.

Their efforts may not be necessary.

Jay Biggins, the executive managing director of Princeton-based Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., said Newark already has won a piece of the pie (assuming part of the project is going to New York City, as has been speculated).

Even more, Biggins said, Harrison and Jersey City have won, too.

“They may not distribute the office, the facilities themselves, around the region, but certainly the housing and workforce effects will be felt throughout the mass transit spine that leads to Long Island City,” he told ROI-NJ.

Biggins, whose firm specializes in relocating major companies throughout the country, said putting even part of the potential 50,000-job project in New York City means the outlining areas will benefit tremendously.

“(Companies and their employees) will make the same analysis of a two-seat ride to that location, coming from anywhere in the metropolitan area,” he said. “So, we’ll see significant increases in interest for people wanting to live in affordable places.

“Is that the PATH to the New York City subway? I think so. Two seats, maybe three, is the limit that is tolerable and enough to plan around — so that means anywhere on the PATH line can benefit.

“It means Harrison, it means Newark, it means Jersey City — all will benefit from residential demand from 25,000 employees, even if they decide to locate in Long Island City.”

Biggins, like many other professionals, was skeptical from the start about the scope of the project — Amazon’s RFP said it would be 50,000 jobs paying six-figures and a $5 billion investment.

Biggins said no place could handle that many jobs in such a short period of time. And that it would require far more than $5 billion to even make an effort to handle them.

“You know the effort that’s required if you’re putting an Olympic bid in?,” he asked then answered. “It would require that kind of effort, that kind of infrastructure investment, that kind of commitment of resources — and not just private resources, public resources.

“It would have required significant housing and other investments to make it work, including, in some cases, potentially transportation infrastructure, depending upon on design and planning issues.

“And none of the markets that were on their list of 20 had either the workforce or the infrastructure to sustain 50,000 additional people in a defined period of time.”