Dec. 11, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The city and state offered dozens of Long Island City sites as part of its pitch to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to the neighborhood, according to a new batch of documents released last night.
Officials presented Amazon with 30 “first-class” sites on the waterfront and in Court Square that Amazon could occupy and expand into, totaling more than 13 million available square feet.
These sites, as well as property in three other neighborhoods around the boroughs, pitched to the company were selected after the city itself called on the private sector to identify available properties that could accommodate Amazon.
The sites included practically all waterfront properties west of Vernon Boulevard between Queens West and the Queensborough Bridge, along with a cluster of sites in Court Square south of Jackson Avenue. Some properties, additionally, were identified in Queens Plaza and scattered areas north and south of Sunnyside Yard.
Along the waterfront, 11 sites owned or leased by six distinct entities were proposed. The sites include the five parcels at Anable Basin officially selected for Amazon’s campus buildout (owned by the city, Plaxall, and with some leased to TF Cornerstone), and properties to the north owned by Silvercup and ConEd.
The privately-owned site known locally as “Lake Vernon,” additionally, was offered in the pitch.
In Court Square, 10 sites were offered in the general area south of Jackson Avenue between 11th Street and Thomson Avenue—which New York officials referred to in the pitch as the “commercial core district.”
The 10 sites here are owned or leased by five entities. The city and state, one of the entities, own the majority of available sites in this section— six Jackson Avenue properties next to and over the LIRR yard that have been partly proposed for development before.
The remaining four sites in the Court Square cluster are owned by Plaxall and Innovo Property Group; Westbrook Partners, with Savanna’s One Court Square—where Amazon will be temporarily moving into as its headquarters are built—also thrown in the mix.
Outside of the waterfront and Court Square areas, eight properties were pitched that include Silvercup’s flagship studios at 21st Street, a two-story building off Queens Plaza, the Falchi building, and the Standard Motor Products building.
The city and state noted in its pitch that the waterfront district had more opportunity for new development from the ground up, and said the cluster of city/state owned sites in the commercial core district could allow for a contained campus within a few short blocks.
One Court Square, additionally, was also pitched as a “phase 1” building that Amazon could occupy until it identified expansion opportunities.
Some of the proposed properties, like the city-owned building occupied by the DOE on Vernon Boulevard and the Falchi Building, have been classified as “existing” or “rehabilitation” and appear to be protected from new construction.
The rest of the properties, however, are overwhelmingly marked as “new construction.”
The selected Long Island City sites, additionally, offer insights into plans for sites thought to be in progress, in limbo or long abandoned.
The waterfront Silvercup properties by the Queensboro Bridge, for example, were once planned to house another massive studio grounds for the company. The plans, however, appear to have stalled, even as Silvercup recently completed a cleanup of the contaminated properties—signaling interest in developing the sites.
New York officials said in its bid to Amazon many of the pros heard about Long Island City—that it is transit-connected, ever-growing, and increasingly becoming a tech and business force to be reckoned with.
The release of the city and state’s official response, meanwhile, comes as the City Council prepares to hold the first of a series of oversight hearings tomorrow on how the Amazon deal came to be.
To see the city and state’s full Amazon HQ2 response, click here.