Long Island City waterfront is getting more apartments and a school

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Two city-owned lots on the Long Island City waterfront will be transformed into new apartment units, commercial space and a school.

The Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released on Thursday a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bring a mixed-use development to an undeveloped stretch of waterfront across the water from the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.

The city will look to create commercial office space and to utilize the lots for light production use since they sit within the neighborhood’s Industrial Business Zone. This redevelopment will also bring up to 1,000 units of housing, which will require developers to plan for an affordable housing component.

The project must also accommodate an 80,000-square-foot school to serve 600 students. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced last week the addition of the new elementary school in the area as part of the mayor’s $225 million allocation for the construction of three schools in Long Island City.

Currently, a Department of Transportation facility sits on one site along 44th Drive. The other site, also on 44th Drive, consists of 250 parking spaces, a dilapidated platform and Water’s Edge restaurant, which has a lease that expires on May 2017, according to the RFP.

The developers must create a publicly accessible waterfront space along the East River, which translates to more than an acre of public space, a safe pedestrian environment and strong connections from Vernon Boulevard to the waterfront, the RFP said.

“This catalytic waterfront development will build on the residential growth we’ve seen in recent years, bringing much-needed office space and amenities to the community,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “Our goal is to continue investing in Long Island City as a true live-work-play community, one where a parent living in an affordable apartment can walk their child to school and then continue on to work at a good-paying job.”

NYCEDC estimates that approximately 60 million square feet of commercial office space will be needed in the city by 2025, a “tremendous demand” that the city hopes to address with projects like this, she said.

The city is also asking for developers to create retail and community facility space to “enliven the pedestrian experience along Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive.”

Long Island City residents have expressed frustration at the lack of schools and infrastructure in the areas as developments continue to rise. Van Bramer remarked that he is “proud” of the plan, which will bring services that residents need.

“As more people come to realize that western Queens is a fantastic place to live, it’s important to ensure that not only do we provide significant affordable housing so that our community is accessible to all, but to also make sure that increased housing comes with more jobs, parks, schools and transportation,” Van Bramer said.