BQX supporters say Amazon’s arrival in Long Island City makes the streetcar system vital

BQX supporters say Amazon’s arrival in Long Island City makes the streetcar system vital
By Bill Parry

Backers of the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar project began a new push to approve the system just over a month after Amazon announced its HQ2 campus in Long Island City.

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, the nonprofit organized to support the light rail along the East River waterfront, released an updated report based on research performed by BJH Advisors that examines the state of current and planned commercial office development within a mile of the proposed system that would run the 11 miles between Astoria and Red Hook.

Its findings show that Amazon’s decision to open the campus in Long Island City “is not an accident, but a reflection of growth trends along” the corridor, according to the report.

In addition to Amazon’s plan to invest $2.5 billion for the HQ2 campus surrounding Anable Basin — along the proposed BQX route — job centers in Long Island City, Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn will add 58 million square feet of commercial space, and more than 70,000 jobs, within a decade and the need for quality mass transit to connect those fast-emerging employment hubs, deliver workers to jobs, and continue to fuel the area’s economic growth in the next ten years is urgent.

“The need for the BQX to connect workers along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront to fast-growing outer borough employment hubs has long been clear,” a Friends of the BQX spokesman said. “But Amazon’s decision to open a Long Island City campus underscores just how essential a role the BQX will play in delivering workers — many living in areas sorely underserved by quality mass transit — to jobs and workforce development opportunities alongside the corridor, which will be home to more commercial space than the downtowns of Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Boston by 2029.”

The estimate for the BQX project comes in at around $2.7 billion, and earlier this month, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who supports the BQX proposal, called on Amazon to help pay for its construction.

“Amazon’s pick of Long Island City is a game-changer for Queens,” Katz said. “That said, the community’s significant concerns about capacity, equity and already-strained infrastructure needs are certainly valid, especially given the substantial tax incentives offered to Amazon.”

She added that it would be a fair investment into its new home, and a “welcome opportunity for a good corporate neighbor to directly benefit the existing, impacted communities of Western Queens.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.