January 24, By Hannah Wulkan
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan came out strongly today against the city’s plan to develop a large-scale building over a LIRR rail yard site in Long Island City.
The criticism comes a day after the city announced that it is looking for a third-party developer to build a structure that includes retail space and housing units over the LIRR tracks at 11-24 Jackson Avenue. The city put out a request for developer proposals Monday.
The site, bordered by 21st Street, Jackson Avenue and 49th Avenue, is 58,000 square feet and is currently owned by the city and used as storage space for the LIRR.
“This project has high probability to be outsized and not right for Long Island City. I oppose such overdevelopment,” Nolan said. “Considering the size of the site and its proximity to other large scale development in Long Island City there must be a better plan to increase basic services before such large scale development is considered.”
Nolan pointed out that in order for the project to be profitable, a developer would likely have to rezone the site to build taller than the 125 feet currently permitted, and guessed that the development would reach between 50 and 60 stories.
The RFP states that a developer would be required to build over the existing LIRR rail yard on the site, similar to what the development of Sunnyside Yards would entail. The RFP looks for the development to include mixed income housing, retail and commercial space, and a community facility.
Nolan has opposed large developments in the past. She came out against the Sunnyside Yards project when it was first proposed in 2015, saying that the massive project would be out of context and could not be supported by the infrastructure in place.
She expressed concern about overcrowding of the area contributing to sewage backup in to Newtown Creek, and added, “I feel that we are now playing catch-up. Our schools remain the most overcrowded in the city and every subway rider knows the daily overcrowded conditions on the 7, E, F, M, N, Q, and R.”
More recently, Nolan also voiced her apprehension over the upcoming clock tower development in Court Square.
“I do not support a height of seventy stories for any building in Long Island City and will continue to press for whatever changes are necessary to keep some sense of scale,” Nolan said in December about the clock tower development purchased by the Durst Organization.
All proposals for 11-24 Jackson Avenue are due to the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the MTA in April.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris said he is currently having discussions with community leaders about the city’s proposal for the Jackson Avenue site.
“I will not support any plan that does not have the community’s approval.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he is reviewing the proposal too. “We will review the proposal along with the community and community board and won’t support any project that isn’t right for our community.”