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2 Big Towers Likely to Go Up in LIC Following Air Rights Deal Struck With City

27-01 Jackson Ave., one of two sites owned by the Lions Group. (Google Maps)

April 24, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A developer has plans to construct two high-rise towers near Queens Plaza following a deal struck with the city for air rights.

The towers, planned to rise 25 and 49 stories at 27-01 and 26-31 Jackson Ave., respectively, would hold 481 units combined with the city’s added air rights—roughly three times more units than what is currently permitted, according to the developer.

As part of the deal, the developer is required to use around 40 percent of the city’s transferred air rights to build roughly 150 affordable units in the planned two-tower development. The city’s air rights come from its parcels under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge approach ramps adjacent to the private developer’s two sites. The city, however, cannot build on the parcels because of the ramps themselves.

The project is being run by the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and requires public review to go forth given the disposition of city-owned air rights.

While the project has not yet entered its public process period, and is expected to do so in two weeks, representatives from the HPD, the Department of City Planning, and the property owners themselves gave an overview of their plan to Community Board 2’s Land Use meeting last week.

Perris Straughter, an HPD planner, said the project is part of the city’s efforts to increase affordable housing units, and dates back to 2014, when an RFP for the air rights under the ramp was released by the Economic Development Corporation.

The lots and city-owned parcels.

“Obviously we can’t use them,” Straughter said of the air rights. “We can’t put a building on it…rather than seeking money for development rights, the RFP basically said, ‘Can you give us some affordable housing?’”

He added that the RFP was only available for property owners adjacent to the city-owned parcels, and that the project was then transferred from the EDC to the HPD.

The Lions Group, a real estate agency with several developments across Long Island City, and owners of the Jackson Avenue lots, responded to the RFP, and began negotiating with the city for several years on the project’s size and number of affordable units.

Aaron Shirian, Managing Director of the Lions Group, said the properties were purchased about five years ago with the intention of developing as-of-right, market rate condos the agency has typically pursued—usually no more than 10 to 15 stories tall.

“We decided to hold off to have a conversation,” Shirian said.

The Lions Group joined with Fetner Properties, a real estate group with experience in affordable housing, and eventually came to an agreement with the city where it would transfer 356,497 square feet of their development rights under the ramp to the Lions Group.

The roughly 150 to 160 affordable units under the proposal, or 30 percent of the development, would be priced at 115 percent of the Area Median Income. A family of three, for example, would need an income of $98,785 to qualify for a unit.

Straughter explained, however, that the project is not part of the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing program, but mirrors its affordability terms.

26-32 Jackson Ave., one of two lots slated for development. (Google Maps)

While Straughter hailed the project for making affordable units out of unusable development rights, members of the Land Use Committee overwhelmingly panned the idea.

“It’s not what the community would prefer, that’s number one,” said Lisa Deller, Chair of the Land Use Committee. “Number two, you get this huge bump of market rate units that you’re going to sell. There’s no comparability—what we’re getting is not what we’re looking for, and what you’re getting is a really nice deal.”

Straughter said the city is getting the best affordability package it can, and that the plan ultimately allows for affordable housing units when the developer’s plan would have initially seen none.

Still, the committee said the city is still doing a disservice to the community.

“Has the city considered the fact that while you’re creating so called affordable housing, you’re also increasing the un-affordability of the entire neighborhood around it?” said Kenny Greenberg.

The Lions Group and Fetner Properties said the plan is as simple as the development’s market rate housing subsidizing the affordable units.

But Deller rejected the notion, calling the argument “ridiculous” and urging the city to think of a better affordability plan.

The project is expected to be presented to the full board in May once its ULURP application becomes certified.

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62 Comments

Wayne

It’s pretty funny how people who live in NEW YORK CITY seem to think they should be immune to change.




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MRLIC

Wayne, Anon is right you completely miss the point. It is not change by itself, it is being able to afford to live where you have been living, without being pushed out by rich people willing to pay what Real Estate developers want. You sound like a Real Estate developer. There are many on this site.




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Anon

I’ve also been saying it’s about RESPONSIBLE development, RESPONSIBLE change. Nothing about what’s happening in LIC is responsible. The problems are everything everyone has addressed here (minus the real estate people and Van Bramer’s office) increased transportation, green space, grocery stores, pharmacies, community space, fire stations, more police, doctor’s offices, hospitals, commercial spaces, places for people to work (not just construction) etc. It’s everything that makes a well-rounded community. LIC is currently one luxury high rise after another- more people, less amenities and things we need, more problems.




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An Astoria Mom

Just when you thought every inch of the area has been (over) built, I cant believe I’m reading this “new development” proposal. It’s not that anyone is unappreciative of any genuine goodwill by developers towards the City’s affordable housing needs. It’s that we have already seen, and continue to see, the City & neighborhood always at a disadvantage with these arrangements. Havent we learned?




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MRLIC

To Astoria Mom & Brooklyn, both of you pretty much understand what has happened in LIC, which some people who have never lived in a decent community where everyone seemed to know each other just don’t understand. LIC was pretty much what Brooklyn and Astoria were. Astoria is being targeted by GREED now. Astoria Mom , remember one thing, 98k is not affordable housing.




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Basta

The attitude of all these newcomers and transplants is astounding. They don’t understand the first thing about NYC and it’s character, yet they decided to move here for some reason. It was appealing to them, but clearly they don’t know why, since they are trying to destroy the very makeup of the city that generated said appeal. Truly a distressing situation with these people that are closer to robots than actual human beings.




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Brooklyn

I am so sorry LIC. Things have gone the way of Greenpoint, which used to be the quiet, family neighborhood outside of ‘Emerald City’. A place for good people to raise their kids. It’s all ruined, just a place now for politicians without a conscience, making tons of money by letting this go on. Someday they will be judged for this, but today GREED rules.




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Basta

Agree 100%. Although I don’t know if there will ever be a reckoning. Once the city is drained of all of its life, and everything that made it NYC, will the remaining ‘people’ even notice? They probably won’t even know any better, and they are probably happy to see NYC turn into just another overpopulated, character and soul-less city like the ones you see all over Asia.




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gdfgfs

Reminder that the excessive housing going up in LIC has spared the rest of queens from dramatic increases in rent like Brooklyn has gone through.




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MRLIC

gdfgfs-You still don;t get it. $98k is not “AFFORDABLE”. Plus where are the people going to fit on trains and buses already over burdened? WAKE UP ALREADY !!!!!!!!!! Come down from your dream world, PLEASE. JVB blocks his Twitter, DeBlasio and Cuomo don’t care about anyone as NYC is the most corrupt state in the USA…Look It Up.




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Explain

How? It might if the new housing supply was price-equivalent to the housing stock in Queens. It is not. What has been built is primarily luxury, which is fine, but the supply of lux housing does not impact the non-lux housing overwhelmingly found in Queens.




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MRLIC

Licfly, Your comment wreaks of ELITISM 1% type talk. LIC was OK, now it is over crowded and lacking amenities. Not worth what people are paying to live here. Commercial space is way over priced. Too many luxury buildings for the well off. Not enough Affordable Housing. Gentrification and Elitism go hand in hand,




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playground

the area desperately needs a play ground. murray park is a hike away with kids,make the lot under the bridge a playground, problem solved…




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MRLIC

To all people who commented on this article that think this is affordable housing, WAKE THE HECK UP!!!!!!!!!. $98k is not affordable. There is enough Luxury Housing here already. Remember there are 33 more hotels in the works. (33). why do we need 33 more hotels. Make them really affordable Housing and maybe you will accomplish something and make a dent in what is really needed. all of you must not take pubic transportation as it is over burdened already. Where on God’s Green Earth will you put more people on Public Buses and Trains. Many of you either don’t care or don’t ride these buses and trains. Stores are not coming at current RENTS!!!!!!Must be many Real Estate Developers commenting on LIC Post.




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JAMES EDSTROM

There sure is Real Estate Developers commenting here. And I bet from Jimmy’s office too.




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JAMES EDSTROM

One more comment MRLIC and everyone else. I was in that area a couple of weeks ago for a surprise birthday. Nothing for nothing, the neighborhood is quaint, it has it’s own energy in the air. Who the hell would want a high rise anyway there. It seemed like such a great community. High rises in this area are for one reason. To make room for the rich. No low income will live in these buildings, 98 grand is not affordable any where in the country. The area is just fine the way it is. Why change?




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Basta

Take a look at all of the people that have recently moved to LIC to fill the luxury buildings. Try to have a conversation with them. It’s impossible! They are boring, lifeless, characterless cardboard cutouts posing as people. The neighborhood is becoming dull because it is being overpopulated with dull people.




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anonymous

A salary of $98,000 still qualifies for affordable housing in NYC. The person making $98,000 are our city Police, teachers, and other municipal employees who, without programs such as this one are living 50 miles and more out of the city. These programs make it easier for municipal employees as well as others to afford to live in NYC. The rent on a 2bdrm for a person making $98K would be $2,200, which is almost $2,500 below market. You can yell at the Developers that this is not affordable, but unfortunately in this city, it is.




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anonymous

While 98K seems like a large income, it is still qualifies for affordable housing in NYC. The person earning 98K could be an NYC municipal employee such as police, sanitation, teachers who currently cannot afford to live in NYC and are commuting over 50 miles. This program would create housing for some of the building where a 2 bdrm would rent for $2,200. You cannot find that rent in the market for our municipal employees.




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JAMES EDSTROM

It seems the positive voices here are plants. Any real LIC resident would know we do not have the infrastructure to handle any more buildings this size. Hunters Point South is not even done, and we are overwhelmed. And the man who backed all this construction Jimmy Van Bramer sits back and refuses to help solve the problems unless there is a media photo op attached. Now our elected Councilman is blocking residents complaints on Twitter. You will not shut us up Jimmy till you address the problems you created. We have no garbage pails by the park, illegal parking on sidewalks, gangs posting graffiti in our park. Maybe if you picked up the phone yourself and spoke to the commissioners, something would be done. We need traffic lights, we need enforcement of the laws here and the sad fact is someone will be killed this year on Borden and Center and you were told Jimmy. You were told and you blocked us on Twitter!




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JAMES EDSTROM

This is affordable? A family of three, for example, would need an income of $98,785 to qualify for a unit. ARe you kidding me? This is being built for the rich and as always, Jimmy Van Bramer has his own back and not the residents. Do not vote for Van Bramer for Queens President, he would never let this kind of project be built in Sunnyside Gardens where he lives…




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JAMES EDSTROM

It will be a range. 98 thousand to lets say 110 thousand. Thats how they do it, its a range. As for the other comment that police officers, fire department and teachers make 98 thousand, I want what you are smoking, because you are in a daze. here are the figures. Salary. Starting salary: $42,500. Salary after 5 ½ years: $85,292. Teachers: Starting teacher salaries range from $45,530 (bachelor’s degree, no prior teaching experience) to $74,796 (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree plus 30 credits, 7.5+ years teaching experience). Teachers who have a master’s degree but no teaching experience will start at $51,425. The only city employee that makes this much would be Jimmy Van Bramer, who can afford to live anywhere he wants. Members of the New York City Council voted themselves a $36,000 raise recently — more than $10,000 above the number suggested by an independent advisory salary panel — to $148,500 a year. By 40-7, the council approved the first raise for itself since 2006. If Van Bramer thinks any of this is fair, he needs to be voted out, he is a one percenter!




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anonymous

$98,000 is unfortunately an income of affordable housing in NYC. The person earning 98K cannot afford to live in a market rate 2bdrm. This could be a municipal employee such as a police officer, teacher or other city employee who but for this program would be living 50 miles outside of the city limits. You might be upset that there are apartments for people earning 98K, but what about insuring there is housing for city employees who would pay approximately $2,200 for a 2bdrm apartment which does not exist in the market unless it is an affordable unit.




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JAMES EDSTROM

Look, you must be the builder or from Jimmy’s office. We know what comments are yours. By no means is 98K a year affordable, sorry. Look at the city’s website. Many new buildings way lower, facts. Jimmy Van Bramer has sold the community out again by supporting this. In fact he sold everyone out, Jimmy has his city car to drive around, he rarely rides the subway unless it’s a photo op. Wake up Queens, JVB is not good for us and these buildings can not handle the infrastructure. Build Build Build and then a few years later it costs us more money because the subway, the buses, the sewers can not handle all these people.




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JAMES EDSTROM

One more thing. You post this is for police, fire department etc. Do you know that you only have to live here 6 months to a year to apply? We got people from Ireland, France, England and every other country in our affordable buildings here by the park. I like them all, makes for a great mix, but lets be real. Thousands of apartments from these programs are not going to long term New Yorkers, they are going to people from other countries. These are facts, I live here and I know. So stop using that this is good for the community. It is good for Jimmy Van Bramer and it is good for the builder and it is good for people from other countries. Perhaps the first thing old Jimmy should do is change the rules and make it that you have to be a New Yorker for at least ten years before being able to apply for affordable housing. And these buildings are supposed to be set with the community AMI. I am sure that the AMI for LIC is not 98 thousand.




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Anonymous

Some people really do just love to argue. It is clear that this company is trying to help by expanding affordable housing. This is a great deal and it would go a long way for this community.




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MRLIC

Anonymous, I now know why you comment as Anonymous. You must be delusional if you think $98k is affordable.




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JAMES EDSTROM

No, he is either from Van Bramers office or the builder. We can spot their comments here.




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vcdcgad

It’s that the income of the family cannot exceed that amount in order to qualify for the below market rate housing.

A lot of people don’t realize but Flushing and LIC have been absorbing most of the new housing units in Queens, allow rents in places like Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, and Jackson Heights to remain sorta stable.




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Community member

With a deal that mirrors the city’s affordability terms while not being part of the mandatory inclusionary housing program shows that there are steps being made by both parties to make this work. While the buildings will take time to go up there will be a sprouting retail environment in the neighborhood to service all the new residents to the area. This sense of community and local business’ will evolve the neighborhood and set the stage for a blossoming Long Island City Enviornment. If anything I am of the impression this is what the city needs.




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MRLIC

Community Member, Do you really believe what yo wrote? Are you a Real Estate agent or broker who advertises on LIC Post? Did you not see the NY Post article on “Vacant City” why businesses can’t make it here? RENTS !!!!
LIC is no different. Why does 1 restaurant open and 1 close every other week or month on Vernon Blvd? RENTS !!!The buildings are here in LIC , where are the STORES??? Not Yuppie places such as Food Cellar. I am talking Shop Rite,Stop N Shop etc.. The little Key Food we have doesn’t have much. The way it is run is when many items are on sale they don’t put many out or none at all. When they are off sale they are loaded with those same items. Again $98k is not affordable to most.




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JAMES EDSTROM

MRLIC you are so right. Walk around Broadway and 57th street. Walk around SOHO. Empty stores everywhere. Vernon, look around. And what you say about Key Food is so on the money. We have nothing here that is affordable. My rich friends would never shop here, low quality, high prices. One place right here by park, 28 thousand a month, they are losing their shirt. Yet another place on city property 82 grand a year, friends with Jimmy and all the politicians. It’s who you know in LIC, MrLIC… It’s who you know and they are all selling us out. When we complained to Jimmy Van Bramer on twitter, he blocks us. This is what he did to residents the other day, blocked us from his twitter. Do we pay is salary ? #votevanbramerout




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Frank

Perhaps stores are becoming somewhat obsolete. Other than food and pharmacy items, I haven’t purchased very much from a brick and mortar store in years unless I really needed/wanted it right away. Even then, I would probably just sit for 2-day shipping on Amazon Prime.




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JAMES EDSTROM

I think if we had big stores like the midwest, we would go. Shopping is fun in a store, but around here we really have no choice but to shop online. When I go to Chicago, I spend endless hours in a supermarket because I just can not believe what a real store is in other places.




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Brooklyn

Dear Frank,
It seems that you lead a very charmed and advantageous life. I’m sorry you don’t know what it’s like to have to work for a living. Good luck to you if you ever have to do anything for yourself.




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Anon

really happy to see some responsible development with the affordable housing. honestly a great transformation for the neighborhood




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LoveLIC

The city owns air rights that they can’t do anything with so they’re giving them to the guy next door to build affordable housing and people are upset about that? Sometimes i wonder if these ‘community members’ really care about our community or just care about arguing!




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Anonymous

They sound like they care about the people AND the community. Affordable housing is very beneficial to everyone. It brings diversity to the community and increases economic growth. Great job by the mayor in making something work.




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Anonymous

he is making nothing work this mayor at all — he is making things worse — look how well he has done with NYCHA – a disgrace




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LIC Neighbor

Corruption, corruption, corruption!!!! The Mayor lining his pockets and so will JVB who is in the hunt to raise more cash for his next run for QNS Borough President, just remember JVB is the guy that sold us out on the homeless shelters in this community and look-out for Lisa Deller, under her watch all these hotels got built in this community that now house the homeless shelters. Would not be surprised if she would slip in to JVB’s spot and run for city council, she already has the support of the RE developers. Just wait for the new shelter 15 story hotel to be built on the corner next to the YMCA on Qns Blvd and 33rd St, which eventually will be homeless shelter approved under her watch. Lisa Deller is against the affordable housing apartments this new project will bring, because there’s nothing in it for her. She’s a VP at a Real Estate Development Fund, come on, why is Lisa Deller saying this plan is ridiculous?




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Frank

This area needs some actual public green space very badly and new schools… a pity the City is negotiating harder on behalf of their constituents for these




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MRLIC

What the Heck is going on? More High Rises with no room to put anyone anywhere on roads, streets and Trains and buses. What the hell are these developers thinking? Greed is abound here and all over LIC/NYC. 150 So called :Affordable Units ” BS. It is now worse than OVERKILL. It is unbelievable. Stop this Jimmy Van Bramer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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MRLIC

To gdfgfs, there is a GLUT of housing. It is just NOT AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Are you in the elitist 1% class?




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vcdcgad

It’s almost like rich people move into new units instead of bidding up the price on existing units.




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Dianna

This is so unacceptable how will people afford such for these units LIC is becoming unlivable




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Brian

I am not apposed to housing, but it is clear that the city and developers have pounced on L.I.C. for Greed. As a former resident of this community I can tell you this area is not big enough. No parking, unreliable and often broken subway line #7 train and the N train. Along with entrance and exit to the Queensboro bridge. This area will be like their is ball park stadium here. GREED $$$$$$$




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LICfly

Ppl need to go learn higher paying skills and hustle. Work a 2nd/3rd job if you have so you can live in LIC. Trust me, it’s worth it.




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MRLIC

Licfly, Your comment wreaks of ELITISM 1% type talk. LIC was OK, now it is over crowded and lacking amenities. Not worth what people are paying to live here. Commercial space is way over priced. Too many luxury buildings for the well off. Not enough Affordable Housing. Gentrification and Elitism go hand in hand,




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Anonymous

Live where you could afford to live. Affordable housing doesn’t belong in LIC.




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Anonymous

does everyone know that half of these buildings that have gone up or in the middle of going up have “STOP WORK ORDERS” on them — it is a diaster – they are not following the laws and are getting caught and they are not renting out all that they claim either




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Brooklyn

LICfly, I don’t know how to even process your comment except to now think what is wrong with you? YOU would work 3 jobs to live somewhere?? That’s not living. Truly born yesterday!!




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