Courtesy WXY architecture + urban design
Plaxall plans for a new mixed-use development to be built out around Anable Basin in Long Island City which will inlude a 65-story tower and a waterfront esplanade.
By Bill Parry

Plaxall is working with the city to rezone a 15-acre parcel that surrounds Anable Basin on the Long Island City waterfront for a new mix-use district that would rise over the next 15 years. It would bring a 65-story tower, 5,000 residential units spread out over eight buildings that will include 25 percent affordable housing, manufacturing and office space.

The ambitious project also would provide retail space, arts and cultural components, car-free pedestrian walkways, a new 700-seat public school and a waterfront esplanade to make Anable Basin accessible to the public.

“It’s a development structure that we believe is the wave of the future,” Plaxall Managing Director Paula Kirby said. Kirby and her cousins, Matthew Quigley and Tony Pfohl, run the plastics company that has been an anchor in the Long Island City community for more than 70 years with strong ties to the borough’s arts and cultural institutions, charities such as Queens Community House, and Queens Library. The three have watched for the last 15 years as the gritty industrial neighborhood has morphed into a city of gleaming residential towers, known locally as “vertical cruise ships” that are packed with high-end amenities, where residents tend to stay in their buildings instead of becoming a part of the community.

“We’ve discussed our potential redevelopment of Anable Basin with many community members over the years,” Quigley said. “Although many are understandably concerned about change and development, we believe we have a very persuasive case that the benefits to our project — affordable housing, great public open space, school seats, retail, light industrial and artist workspace — make this a plan that really meets some important local needs.”

Plaxall hopes to have its plan certified by City Planning by the spring, which would start the seven-month public review process by Community Board 2, the Queens borough president, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

“We are prepared to continue working with our neighbors, elected officials, and other local stakeholders to refine and improve the proposal through the rezoning process,” Kirby said.

There was negative reaction on social media Tuesday when a New York Times headline said the 65-story tower would be record-breaking, the tallest high-rise outside of Manhattan. But Matt Quigley explained during a briefing Tuesday that by the time the 695-foot tower is built there will be a number of taller towers in Queens and Brooklyn.

“At 695 it wouldn’t be the highest,” Quigley said. “Maybe we should put an exclamation mark on that.”

Plaxall brought in Jonathan Drescher, who served as senior vice president of project development at the Durst Organization for more than a decade overseeing Hallets Point in Astoria and the Clock Tower development in Queens Plaza, to manage the rezoning effort.

“Through our plan, the new Anable Basin would be a place where people live and work in the same place — enhancing quality of life, productivity and easing the demands on transit and energy infrastructure by placing workplaces closer to home,” he said.

In advance of the public review process, Plaxall will hold a number of informal drop-in sessions to talk to neighbors about the project over the next few months. Details on those sessions will be posted on the Anable Basin project website in the coming weeks, although its plan has plenty of support already among community leaders.

“Paula, Matt and Tony care deeply about western Queens and have provided invaluable support over the years to help local residents break the cycle of poverty,” Urban Upbound Co-founder and CEO Bishop Mitchell Taylor said. “We hear a lot about new development, but what’s different here is that this plan was put together by people who have lived and breathed in this community for years. They understand what makes LIC work, what can help it grow responsibly, and what elements must remain to maintain its character. This plan accomplishes all three.”

The project would support nearly 2,600 permanent jobs at full build-out — over five times the number of existing onsite jobs at Anable Basin — and generate $450 million in annual economic output.

The build-out of the district would also support more than 10,000 construction-related jobs.

“The family’s vision for Anable Basin is clearly based on thoughtful research and design that will enhance the community with new housing — a good portion of it affordable — waterfront access, and space for small business to expand,” Queens Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Seth Bornstein said. “These components are essential in furthering the balanced growth of the borough.”

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

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