Two companies with names long familiar to Long Island City residents are partnering with Amazon to build its new HQ2 campus along the waterfront, just south of the Queensboro Bridge.
Plaxall — the family-owned plastics company — and developer TF Cornerstone have shelved their own plans to build mixed-use developments on private and public land in order to construct four million square feet of commercial space over the next 10 years. They’ll also have expansion opportunities for up to 8 million square feet over the next 15 years between Vernon Boulevard and the East River around the Anable Basin.
TF Cornerstone, the builder of seven of the high-rise towers on Center Boulevard, was selected by the city last year to build the Long Island Innovation Center on public owned land at the end of 44th Drive. The massive, mixed-use complex was to include 1,000 residential units in two towers. Plans for the residential portion of the LICIC has now been converted to commercial space, while it’s amenities will remain unchanged.
“As a family-owned company founded by Queens natives, TF Cornerstone is proud to welcome Amazon to Long Island City, bringing new jobs to the borough and preserving significant public benefits, including workforce development, local hiring prioritizing Queens residents, a manufacturing hub, new school and public open space for the community to enjoy,” TF Cornerstone Principal Jake Elghanayan said. “We have been actively involved with the Long Island City community about the future of this site and look forward to our continued work together to create a great project for all.”
Plaxall, which headquartered in Long Island City for more than 70 years, announced plans in 2017 to rezone a 15-acre parcel that surrounds Anable Basin for a mixed-use district that would include 5,000 residential units and a waterfront esplanade to make the inlet accessible to the public.
“We are proud to have a partner in Amazon that shares that vision,” Plaxall said in a statement. “We have seen firsthand in Seattle how the company has worked to develop and integrate its campus and employees into the surrounding community and we know Amazon intends to execute a similar vision here. Plaxall welcomes Amazon to LIC and looks forward to continuing our longstanding discussions with the community about Anable Basin as plans move forward.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Michael Gianaris are not as welcoming, outraged at the way the state will bypass the City Council by creating a general project plan to rezone the site. City Comptroller Scott Stringer agreed, saying the HQ2 project should be subjected to a local rezoning process.
“It is clear this is a good deal for Amazon but it must also benefit the countless New Yorkers who will feel the effects of Amazon’s massive presence in Long Island City by the way of congested roadways, stressed mass transit and a severe shortage of affordable housing,” Stringer said. “I welcome the potential that economic development can bring to our city but any company looking to tap into New York City’s talent pool and vast resources should be willing to make the case in public, transparent way.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the maneuver during a press event with Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday.
“This will be handled by the Empire State Development Corporation, which does what’s called a general project plan in consultation with the City, in consultation with community groups,” Cuomo said. “We’ve used this methodology quite often. Queens West was done as a general project plan, Belmont Racetrack is a new project we’re doing as a plan. The Brooklyn Bridge Park was a project plan; Columbia University’s new campus was a project plan; Moynihan is project plan. So it’s done by ESD in consultation with the city and community, but it expedites the process.”