Nothing happens along Newtown Creek without Mitch Waxman knowing about it first, so he was not surprised to see Crain’s report that Amazon was eyeing an industrial property in Maspeth for a new distribution facility.
As the historian for the Newtown Creek Alliance, Waxman walks along the Queens and Brooklyn shores and updates his Newtown Pentacle website with the daily chronicles of western Queens as it transforms under over-development.
He posted photos of his discovery on his website July 24, nearly a week before the Crain’s report.
“I was on my way to a meeting when I came across heavy demolition going on over on Grand Avenue,” Waxman said. “I noticed the old Cascades Containerboard factory was being torn down by crews from Breeze Demolition so I started asking questions.”
Waxman learned that 54-15, 55-15 and 56-19 Grand Ave. were recently acquired by a California-based company called LBA Realty for $72 million. The deal involves a partnership with another realty company, RXR, to build a four-story warehouse large that would be ideal for the “last mile” of logistics of an e-commerce company.
“Yeah it’s only four stories tall but that thing is going to be massive, massive, massive,” Waxman said. “It’s going to be large enough that heavy trucks will be able to drive around inside the facility, so that the first floor would have to be at least 30 feet tall. As an environmentalist with the Newtown Creek Alliance this set off all kinds of alarm bells with me. This will be a gigantic magnification of truck traffic in residential areas that are already very sensitive to heavy truck traffic.”
QNS reached out to Amazon and is awaiting a response. Amazon scuttled its plan to build to build an HQ2 campus in Long Island City, and create more than 25,000 high-paying jobs, in February.
Now the e-commerce giant is reportedly scouting a million square feet of space in Brooklyn’s Industry City for a new storage and shipping facility in Sunset Park. Amazon may be looking to lease the entire Lord & Taylor building in Midtown, according to Crain’s.
Waxman, an Astoria resident, is concerned about what is happening in Maspeth.
“This sort of footprint tells me we’re looking at well over a hundred heavy trucks a day as well as additional delivery vans,” Waxman said. “It’s like you’re throwing the whole Green New Deal right out the window with that type of truck traffic clogging Maspeth’s residential streets as they make their way from the Long Island Expressway. This part of industrial Maspeth has a rail spur and it runs right along the back of this property with a direct connection to JFK International Airport. Instead, we just keep building more and more infrastructure for trucks.”
City Councilman Robert Holden will be keeping an eye on the site.
“If true, this building sounds montrous and I fear that hundreds of additional trucks would descend on an already clogged area with infrastructure that can nearly handle it,” Holden said. “But we have to wait to learn more details about how many jobs something like this would bring to the area, along with exactly how traffic would be dealt with, before assuming the worst.”