Developers that are planning the future of properties around Anable Basin where Amazon would have built its HQ2 campus in Long Island City before scuttling the plan in February announced that Dr. Gail O. Mellow, former president of LaGuardia Community College, will lead community engagement and workforce development initiatives for “Your LIC,” a comprehensive neighborhood outreach process to envision the future of the waterfront.
Your LIC will be a community-driven and collaborative process by the developers, TF Cornerstone, Simon Baron Development and L&L MAG,who are working together to guide development along the 28-acre area.
“Over my nearly 20 years at LaGuardia Community College, I came to know how Long Island City residents take great pride in making their community a livable, welcoming place for everyone,” Mellow said. “This is such an exciting and important project for our neighborhood and the city at large, and I am thrilled to be doing what I love most — working with the community — to help turn their vision into a reality.”
Mellow had been named by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to co-chair the workforce subcommittee of the Community Advisory Committee that worked to develop plans for the Amazon HQ2 campus, and the 25,000 jobs that were supposed to come with it. Her co-chair was Bishop Mitchell Taylor — founder of Urban Upbound, a community development organization — and now Mellow and Taylor will consult on workforce development issues and community benefits engagement with Your LIC.
“The Long Island City waterfront provides provides so much hope for Queens, and its future must be planned carefully by the people who live and work here,” Taylor said. “I look forward to collaborating with Gail and the Your LIC team to create an inclusive process that prioritizes strong community benefits and good jobs for all.”
The development team also announced that Karp Strategies, and equity-driven urban planning and research firm, has been hired to undergo an analysis of the Long Island City commercial ecosystem to determine how the neighborhood can attract and support a diversity of jobs in an equitable and sustainable way. Mellow and Taylor work will include convening with the NYCHA Tenants Associations.
“It is critical that any plan for Long Island City includes input of the entire community, including NYCHA residents, and Gail Mellow has a great track record of collaborating with us,” Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association President April Simpson said. “I look forward to working with Your LIC on an inclusive process that delivers the jobs we need.”
Claudia Coger, the president of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, agreed.
“Long Island City and Astoria are our communities, and NYCHA residents need to have a seat at the table to plan for their future,” Coger said. “The Astoria residents are eager to work with Gail Mellow and Bishop Taylor on a plan that will be real community benefits for all — including our seniors, families, young people looking for opportunity, and more.”
TF Cornerstone developed Queens West which saw luxury towers rise along Center Boulevard and is currently building more than 1,100 units in two towers at Hunters Point South. The are also planning another development on 8-acres along Newtown Creek.
“This is a completely new approach for Long Island City and an unprecedented process in New York,” TF Cornerstone Principal Jeremy Shell said. “We look forward to working closely with Dr. Mellow and all of the residents, businesses, and stakeholders in Long Island City for the months and years to come.”