Plan for affordable housing and industrial space back on the table for ex-Amazon site in LIC

February 25, 2019

A rendering from 2017 depicting the proposed mixed-use site; courtesy of TF Cornerstone

The city’s plan to bring a thousand residential units and a mix of industrial space to Long Island City is back on the table after Amazon last month announced it will not open a complex in the neighborhood. James Patchett, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said during the Crain’s New York Business breakfast on Thursday that the city will forge ahead with its original plan of bringing a mix of businesses and homes to the Queens neighborhood, Gothamist reported.

TF cornerstone, 44th Drive, Anable Basin, LIC, Long Island City
Courtesy of TF Cornerstone

Three years ago, the city issued a request for proposals for development on two city-owned sites along 44th Drive in Long Island City at a waterfront area known as Anable Basin. In the summer of 2017, officials selected developer TF Cornerstone’s project, which involved constructing a $925 million mixed-use complex across 1.5 million square feet.

According to the Economic Development Corporation, the project was intended to provide 1,000 units of housing (with 25 percent made affordable), 100,000 square feet of light industrial space, 400,000 square feet of commercial space, a new 600-seat school, retail space, and an acre of open space along the waterfront. The plan would require zoning changes in order to move forward.

As Gothamist reported, the TF Cornerstone plan seems to have reappeared after the fallout with Amazon earlier this month, which canceled its plan to open its second headquarters on LIC land owned by the city and land owned by plastics company Plaxall.

In the original project, the developer had plans to build two towers across four acres of land owned by the city, a Department of Education parking lot and a facility used by the Department of Transportation. These two properties were later part of Amazon’s planned Long Island City campus, which also included private land owned by Plaxall.

In a 2017 statement announcing the city’s selection of TF Cornerstone, Patchett said: “We’re investing in the continued revitalization of the Long Island City Waterfront, and delivering on our commitment to create good, middle class jobs for New Yorkers.”

As 6sqft reported last September, TF Cornerstone revealed its design for a waterfront park as part of the complex. The development team, which had included Matthews Nielsen Landscape Architects and Handel Architects, said it would stress preservation and revitalization of the marine life of the Anable Cove. Direct public access to the water was also part of the plan.

TF Cornerstone’s plan faced criticism from local politicians and community groups who argued the development was an inappropriate use of public land.

In an interview with last February, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called the lack of affordable housing “insulting.”

“You can’t allow a developer the opportunity to build on city-owned land and only offer 25 percent affordable,” Van Bramer said. “That is insulting. That’s wildly unacceptable to me and my community.”

Van Bramer, along with State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were fierce opponents of Amazon’s plan to move to Long Island City. In a letter announcing it was pulling out of Queens, Amazon said it required “positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long term.” The company has no current plans to look for another location for its “HQ2” campus.

The EDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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