Oct. 30, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The city has committed to investing millions in Long Island City under a new plan released today aimed at supporting sustainable growth in the neighborhood.
The Long Island City Investment Strategy, as the longterm plan is called, outlines the ways the city is and will be addressing practically all infrastructure in the neighborhood, ranging from parks, schools, transportation, and sewage systems.
To fund the improvements, the city is funneling $180 million into the neighborhood on top of $2.2 billion it says it has invested into the area over the years.
The city admits the impetus for its strategy comes from rapid residential development that has strained neighborhood resources and the quality of life of people living in the neighborhood since the 2001 rezoning.
The plan, additionally, stems from coordinating with multiple city agencies and engaging with the community since 2015, where the city heard concerns from distressed locals on infrastructure keeping pace with development.
“For Long Island City to continue to be a livable community there must be a massive infusion of infrastructure dollars now,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in a statement. “The investments being announced today are necessary and welcome, but they are also just the beginning.”
Seven areas of focus are identified in the plan, along with steps the administration is taking to bolster each sector at present and future investments it plans to pursue.
With transportation, for instance, the city is looking toward upping roadways, supporting street improvements, and expanding capacity. Some actions include allocating $10 million to fund the ongoing LIC/Hunters Point Area street infrastructure project and a study to determine the impacts of for-hire vehicles on neighborhood streets.
The city will also vouch for several train stations in the area to undergo accessibility improvements as part of the MTA’s Fast Forward plan.
As for its water and sewer system, the city will invest $95 million in implementing a first phase of upgrades to combined sewers in the area west of Sunnyside Yard as part of an upcoming drainage plan.
The city is also attempting to add open space in the inland portions of the neighborhood, like under the Queensboro Bridge ramps on Dutch Kills Street, while enhancing existing parks, like Queensbridge Baby Park and Court Square Park, with a total of $15 million in funds.
Part of its strategy, however, includes working with private developers to encourage investment into these spaces, and looking into creating open space on existing public land.
With schools, the city has already budgeted $60 million toward the construction of a new school in Court Square, and says it is committed to accelerating school projects in the pipeline to address needs now. But here, too, the city will continue to work with private partners in identifying additional school site opportunities.
While the report highlights the area’s influx of market rate housing, the city’s plan is to promote a mixed-income neighborhood in part by encouraging developers to include affordable units in their projects and “significant affordable housing” on projects in public sites.
Current actions being taken to address affordability, according to the city, include the continued build-out of developments like Hunter’s Point South, the potential rezoning of the Anable Basin, and tenant protection tools the city has launched as of late.
Jobs, along with arts and culture, will also be targeted as part of the investment strategy. The aim is to turn Long Island City into a central business district by increasing space for more business; possibly implementing new zoning tools to bring about commercial development rather than residential construction; and connecting businesses to local institutions.
As for arts and culture, the city will bring at least 35 new affordable work-spaces for artists to the area and continue to explore public arts programming. Initiatives already underway, according to the strategy, include the $43 million Hunter’s Point South library and more than $30 million of city funds allocated area museums and arts institutions since 2014.
The investment strategy does not provide a timeline for some future projects, but says it sets forth a “bold path” toward a sustainable Long Island City. Some projects and proposed actions, additionally, require funding and even land use or City Council approvals.
The plan is one of many that have been released with a focus on Long Island City, including the LIC Partnership’s Comprehensive Plan, Borough President Katz’ Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic plan, and presentations from local civic associations.
It also precedes upcoming plans for the neighborhood like the LIC Core Study, which will likely result in a rezoning of the area.
Many local leaders and activists said the investment strategy acknowledges concerns that the community has voiced over several years on all aspects related to Long Island City living.
“This is an important first step and recognition of the infrastructure needs in Long Island City,” said Denise Keehan-Smith, Community Board 2 Chair, in a statement. “There’s still a lot more to be done.”
For the full report, visit www.LIC.NYC