Developers begin planning for LIC waterfront
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 08, 2019 | 1107 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Months after Amazon abruptly pulled the plug on a campus in Long Island City, developers began meeting with city officials to discuss how to develop parts of the waterfront.

In late spring, representatives from TF Cornerstone, L&L MAG and Simon Baron Development met with the City Council and the de Blasio administration to discuss a “comprehensive and unified” plan for the 28-acre site, including where Amazon was supposed to build HQ2.

The discussions continued over the summer, and the developers plan to engage the community in public meetings this fall.

“That’s the best way to meet community needs and deliver on a project that meets the goals of Long Island City,” said Ashley Cotton, managing director of communications and marketing with L&L MAG. “Working together, we’ll accomplish so much more.”

In their conversations with stakeholders so far, the developers have identified community priorities including green space, resiliency, schools, quality jobs, space for the arts, affordable housing and manufacturing.

“The community wants to see much more robust and vital infrastructure and comprehensive planning,” said Maeve Ives, assistant vice president with Simon Baron Development.

Unlike the Amazon plan, this new waterfront development effort will go through a public process, including the Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires City Council approval.

Developers also expect the development to create as many as 50,000 new jobs. That’s according to their own early analysis based on the change in land use of the site, with a “heavy emphasis” on commercial space.

“We’re really excited to dive into a comprehensive workforce plan as a centerpiece of this plan,” Cotton said.

The developers said the Amazon “experience” taught them many lessons, particularly about the strong interest in the Long Island City waterfront.

Eleonora Bershadskaya, senior associate with TF Cornerstone, said they also learned that they need to plan comprehensively, not “one site at a time.” Another lesson is the importance of real community engagement.

“It needs to be a community-endorsed plan,” she said. “That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s critical to have the community involved in the early planning stages.”

One stakeholder that has not been involved in those talks is Plaxall, the Long Island City plastics company that owns a large swath of the waterfront, including Anable Basin.

Cotton said while they were not engaged in this planning effort, the development team has an “open door” to the company.

“We hope that they’ll work with us,” she said. “We’d love that.”

A Plaxall spokesman said the company is open to talking to the city and other participants about the planning process.

The company did meet with local groups, including the Hunters Point Civic Association, Court Square Civic Association, Justice For All Coalition and LIC Coalition, on October 2.

“We’ve spent a lot of time over the years talking with the community about the need for comprehensive planning and thoughtful development along the waterfront, and about our property’s potential for jobs and workforce development, affordable housing and resilient waterfront open space,” said Matt Quigley, Plaxall’s managing director, in a statement.

“Comprehensive planning and input from the neighborhood will be integral to a practical, sustainable and successful plan for Anable Basin and the LIC waterfront,” he added.

In a statement, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, an ardent opponent of Amazon HQ2, said a set of ideas and concepts for the future of the waterfront have been discussed.

“I have said that before any firm plans are formed, the community must be consulted,” he said. “Should anything go forward here, it must go through ULURP and be the result of a vigorous, community-driven process.”

Bershadskaya added that the development team remains convinced that there is a “tremendous opportunity” on the waterfront, and will go about planning its future together.

“We truly believe that by working together, we can do something tremendous here,” she said. “This is a collaborative process.”
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