Community Board 2 approves mixed-use development led by Titan Machine and RXR Realty in Long Island City

Building rendering facing west along Queens Plaza South (Source: Perkins Eastman)

Queens’ Community Board 2 voted to approve a zoning application for a mixed-use development by Titan Machine and RXR Realty for a new commercial building at 42-111 Ninth St. in Long Island City on Oct. 5.

The mixed-use development will feature approximately 70,000 square feet of modern industrial space at the building’s base, 270,000 square feet of commercial office space, and 2,900 square feet of ground-level retail.

The project is in partnership between Titan, an elevator manufacturing and repair company founded in Long Island City in 1973, and RXR, a real estate company that owns and manages approximately 25.5 million square feet of commercial properties in New York, including the Standard Motor Products building in Long Island City.

Developers say the project will transform Titan’s current 21-employee facility into a mixed-use industrial and office building that preserves as well as expands the neighborhood’s existing industrial character, and strengthen the local economy in terms of post-COVID recovery and the sustained growth that will follow.

They say it will create 1,500 permanent jobs, including up to 300 to 350 industrial jobs.

The building’s location outside of Manhattan’s dense central business districts will create walk- and bike-to-work options for employees that reside in Queens and Brooklyn. The building will include 43 on-site bike parking spaces, as it’s within five blocks of three Citi Bike stations and is a short walk from three subway stations served by eight subway lines.

“We’re fortunate that we found in RXR a partner that shares our goals and values and is just as New York born-and-raised as we are,” said Carlos Escobar, president of Titan Machine. “Long Island City is an industrial stronghold in a changing city, and this project will help maintain that character by creating even more industrial space than exists in our building today. Titan will remain invested in this project for the long haul, and we’re eager to continue our work with RXR to give back to the community that gave us so much and provide meaningful opportunities for our friends and neighbors in Long Island City.”

The project certified into ULURP on Sept. 14.

Community Board 2’s review of the project — the first formal stage of the city’s public review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) — urged developers to consider ways to ensure industrial rents are affordable, but voted overwhelmingly in support of the mixed-use building.

The project will now go before the Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee for review.

The ULURP application seeks to designate the project site as an Industrial Business Incentive Area (IBIA), a mechanism developed by the city to encourage private development of new industrial space.

The Titan-RXR team believe the project represents a successful model for private development that allows additional commercial floor area to cross-subsidize the building’s industrial space, removing the need for public subsidies. This model, they say, delivers the dual benefit of strengthening endangered industrial neighborhoods while creating new commercial office space that expands access to higher paying jobs.

“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from Queens Community Board 2, which will help us to not only preserve but expand the space available on site for industrial uses,” said Jeffrey Nelson, senior vice president of RXR Realty. “We look forward to continuing our work with Urban Upbound and LaGuardia Community College, and to forging new relationships with other local organizations to ensure this project benefits the Long Island City community.”

The development will feature 4,500 square feet of landscaped public open space; new tree pits and landscaped planters surrounding the building; lighting enhancements to brighten the surrounding streets; 2,900 square feet of ground-floor retail space; and on-site and underground parking.

In terms of job creation, RXR and Titan say the have established partnerships with local organizations to create a workforce development program that could connect local residents to the roughly 300 construction jobs the project will create.

One of those partners includes Urban Upbound, a Long Island City-based nonprofit. Urban Upbound will be the lead partner for the first phase of the program, helping identify 100 local residents, with priority given to tenants of the Queensbridge Houses, who will receive Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour certification and other training required to enter the construction field.

“RXR and Titan’s commitment to our community is as strong today as it was two years ago when they reached out to discuss an equity partnership for the community,” said Urban Upbound CEO Bishop Mitchell Taylor. “We are so excited to see investment in our community, especially with a focus on industrial development. This project will serve as one of many projects needed to incite recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19. The industrial development will serve as a catalyst to good-paying, skilled jobs for the surrounding community. We look forward to this project coming online.”

LaGuardia Community College will also provide 30 participants with intensive, hands-on training in the skilled trades through the College’s Electrical 1 and Plumbing 1 Courses. Students will graduate with credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), including the NCCER Core and Electrical 1 or Plumbing 1 cards.

LIC Partnerships President Elizabeth Lusskin said the development will help Queens’ industrial business.

“This is a great example of the type of investment that will buoy Queens on its road to recovery,” said Lusskin. “We’ve seen so much manufacturing space disappear over the years, so it’s encouraging to see a project reverse that trend by expanding Long Island City’s industrial building stock and the great jobs that follow – especially at a critical time like this. RXR is a longtime member of the LIC Partnership and Titan has been in the neighborhood for decades, and it’s easy to see that reflected in their efforts to tailor this project to the needs of the local community.”

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