Given that strict schedule and the facts known at the time, Amazon took a negative view of the risks.
“There’s nothing anybody could have done,” Kucharski said, in assessing the outcome and looking ahead to future Bethlehem Steel projects. “It’s remarkable we got as far as we had, and it bodes well as far as the path that we’re on right now. We learned from that experience, and everybody’s working hard together to make it a much better situation for the future.”
County leaders contend Amazon made a mistake giving up on the Bethlehem site, especially since, unlike Grand Island, the community would eagerly embrace the Amazon facility there.
“I don’t understand why they thought it was going to cost them more money to build on that site, just because it was a brownfield, when they weren’t going to pay taxes on the site for seven years,” Poloncarz said.
Even if Amazon had built underground factors into the construction costs and timeline, county officials believe the company would have paid less money and opened sooner than what was ultimately proposed for Grand Island.
“If they had moved forward in late December 2018 and 2019, that building would have been up and people hired,” Poloncarz said. “I just think they’re skittish about building on brownfields.”
‘Confident about the future’