City Councilman and lead candidate for Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced his support of the Your LIC waterfront development.
The development, a project four private developers are looking to build in the 28-acre land along Anable Basin — made popular due to Amazon’s proposed HQ2 — has garnered much attention throughout what is almost a year of its public visioning sessions.
“As we battle massive inequality across Queens, the Long Island City waterfront presents a key opportunity to create new jobs, affordable housing and much-needed community facilities,” Richards told QNS. “We need ambitious proposals that will bring significant private and public investment into communities that have long endured disparities based on their socio-economic status.”
Your LIC’s developers, MAG Partners, Plaxall, Simon Baron Development, and TF Cornerstone, were brought together by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson last year in order to create a comprehensive plan with community input well before the ULURP process.
So far, developers have revealed they plan to develop 10 to 12 million square feet of the 28-acre land with up to 15 buildings that range from 400 to 700 feet in height, or 37 to 64 stories. They’ve mentioned seven acres of public open space. The plan also calls for 50 percent of commercial space, 30 percent residential and 13 percent “community” space that would include three new public schools and space for arts and culture.
Developers say they’ve committed to 5,700 total apartments with 25 percent (or 1,400 units) being affordable, which they say will be consistent with the area’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing metrics. When asked for specific price range for the units, Your LIC Spokesperson Jovanna Rizzo said they did not have those specifics yet.
Richards is making good with his intentions to “play an outsized role in these conversations — more aggressively than what we’ve seen in the past,” he said in July.
“I applaud the Your LIC team for working diligently to solicit community feedback, especially from NYCHA residents who stand to gain the most with this plan,” said Richards. “We must allow it to advance through the ULURP process so we can collectively shape the best possible project for Long Island City’s future.”
His support of the project comes after local Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced his opposition to it as it currently stands, following a letter from various western Queens organizations who believe the public land should be used for public good and developed as a community land trust.
“I do not support the Your LIC proposal. Words of support from REBNY yes men mean little in the face of widespread community concern,” Van Bramer told QNS. “Advancing millions of square feet of residential and commercial space should not be done hastily or without consideration to the local community. Simply put, we don’t need more luxury apartments subsidized with giveaways to the ultra rich. Shame on anyone who supports them.”
Advocacy groups like the Western Queens Community Land Trust and LIC Coalition have said Your LIC’s visioning process hasn’t been entirely inclusive of ideas from community members, leading them to create Our LIC, where they delineate plans they want considered as part of the waterfront project. Some of those plans include turning the Department of Education building — which is not a part of the Your LIC developers scope — into a community hub.
Your LIC held five public workshops, three of which were held in person and two online due to COVID-19, with different topics ranging from resiliency to density. All of them had online engagement options and can be accessed on their webpage.
“In addition to our community engagement thus far, the community will have formal opportunities to weigh in at several points throughout the environmental review and ULURP processes,” Rizzo said.
Your LIC is looking to start the ULURP process in 2021.
Van Bramer, who also has a history of accepting real estate money, didn’t answer questions about what should happen on that land specifically. But the Long Island City representative reiterated that COVID-19 has changed everything.
“New development should focus on the deep affordability needs of the community, both living and working space,” he said. “The proposals I have seen are woefully inadequate. Furthermore, no one even knows what the future of work will look like post-COVID.”
In regards to Van Bramer’s previous statements regarding Your LIC, Rizzo said they have taken them into consideration.
“The councilman has voiced his priorities for comprehensive planning, mixed-use commercial and affordable housing, public open space, new school sites, and more, all of which we have included in our proposal,” she said. “We also earmarked a number of spaces for District Enhancing Uses, which we envision will be the glue between the joints and the connective tissue that develops over time to meet the community’s needs, including any vision that local elected officials and community board members may have for these uses. We hope to continue working constructively with him to shape a plan that works for everyone.”