A year and a half after Amazon canceled plans to build half of its “HQ2” in Long Island City, Queens, it appears plans by the de Blasio administration to build out the area have fallen apart, according to POLITICO.
Although New York Governor Cuomo and city Mayor de Blasio were enthusiastically on board with Amazon’s proposal to build its second headquarters on the 28-acre waterfront site, going so far as to offer billions in tax incentives, pushback from locals and community activists ultimately caused the tech giant to back off. In the wake of its departure, a collective of community groups and developers sat down to discuss building out the so-called “Anable Basin” site, using a WXY master plan previously developed for plastic company (and site owner) Plaxall as a springboard.
However, the city has reportedly withdrawn from negotiations and will develop its own parcel of land at the site separately, effectively scuttling negotiations with MaryAnne Gilmartin, Bruce Teitelbaum, and Plaxall, who together with TFCornerstone, had formed the development group YourLIC. Any project at the scale proposed (the team’s studies are available here, and the mixed-use district would have included housing, offices, a new park, and three public schools) would necessitate a rezoning and public financial support. In return, the city demanded $280 million in infrastructure and sewer upgrades to the surrounding area from the developers involved, outside of the site.
Apparently, the $75 million relocation of a municipal building proved to be the last straw, and according to POLITICO, led to the deal falling apart.
“We remain committed to Long Island City’s future as a thriving mixed-use community,” mayoral spokesperson Mitch Schwartz told POLITICO. “That means supporting proposals that properly account for the development’s critical infrastructure needs and impacts, like open space, transportation and water and sewer. After extensive discussions with YourLIC developers, we are disappointed that the proposed project does not deliver on those requirements.”
The city will keep on TFCornerstone to help build out its own parcel at the site.
The Mayor’s ambitious affordable housing agenda, creating or preserving 300,000 housing units by 2026, has been endangered by the massive hole blown in the city budget by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated recession; in June, $1 billion was cut from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Outside of that, the city’s latest proposed rezonings, crucial for densifying and bringing in affordable housing to neighborhoods the city has deemed “underdeveloped,” have faced intense public pushback. The Sunset Park rezoning recently cleared the City Planning Commission but might be killed by the City Council; the Inwood rezoning was upheld by the State Supreme Court but may be headed to the Court of Appeals, and as the Gowanus rezoning enters the public review phase, tension is building over environmental remediation, gentrification, and the racial disparity in the impact assessments.