Plan for 1,500 units of affordable housing in LIC at risk as Amazon gets ready to move there

Posted On Fri, November 16, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, November 16, 2018 By In affordable housing, Long Island City, Policy

Rendering of Plaxall’s proposed, but not yet approved, mixed-use LIC project courtesy of WXY architecture + urban design

A plan to create 1,500 units of affordable housing in the Anable Basin area of Long Island City will most likely be scrapped, as Amazon prepares to open its headquarters on that same land, Politico reported. Amazon announced this week plans to bring its second headquarters to the Queens neighborhood on land currently owned by plastics company Plaxall, as well as some parcels owned by New York City. Previous plans from Plaxall and the city, who hired developer TF Cornerstone to build a mixed-use campus at the site, called for 1,250 and 250 units of affordable housing, respectively. But an Amazon spokesperson told Politico there will be no housing at its new complex.


Rendering of Plaxall’s proposed mixed-use LIC project courtesy of WXY architecture + urban design

Plaxall proposed last year a 15-acre rezoning of the area, where the company owns 12 acres already, to allow for 335,000 square feet of industrial space, a new public school, and 5,000 units of housing. The plan, released in November of 2017, also committed 1,250 units to be made affordable under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

Similarly, TF Cornerstone’s plan to bring a mixed-use complex to the site had originally called for 1,000 apartments, with 25 percent of them priced below market rate.

Both sites will be taken over by Amazon’s new offices and the company has said there will be no housing at its complex. And while a few acres owned by Plaxall will not be used by Amazon and could potentially still be developed residentially, the number of affordable apartments will be nowhere close to the 1,250 first proposed.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation told Politico that the thousands of jobs and other perks coming to the area from Amazon negate the lack of affordable housing.

“Tackling the affordability crisis means building more affordable housing — but it also means creating more good-paying jobs,” Stephanie Baez, an EDC spokesperson, said. “Development of commercial office space around Anable Basin will offset concerns about residential overdevelopment that have been expressed by some community residents.”

Notably, in July Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen boasted TF Cornerstone’s proposal as demonstrating how housing and industry can work together in development. “All of the battles over rezoning pitted jobs versus housing, which is something we need to get beyond,” Glen told the New York Times. “I hope this can change the conversation in a more positive way.”

But instead of mandating housing, New York State has offered $1.7 billion in incentives for the nearly $4 billion project. Plus, Amazon can potentially snag another $1.3 billion “as-of-right” benefits from the city.

“The fact that massive public subsidies are helping eliminate affordable housing is just the latest reason this bad deal needs to be torn up and thrown away,” State Sen. Michael Gianaris told Politico.

[Via Politico NY]

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Neighborhoods : Long Island City

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