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LIC Waterfront and Amazon Discussed By Elected Officials at Recent Townhall

An aerial view of Anable basin, where Amazon had planned on building new headquarters. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Oct. 3, 2019 By Christian Murray

Western Queens elected leaders expressed caution about the development of Long Island City’s waterfront and explained their position about the Amazon deal when they spoke at a townhall meeting in Sunnyside on Sunday.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer fielded questions from the newly-formed progressive group Stand Up Sunnyside that held the townhall meeting in tandem with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

A good portion of the meeting was dedicated to the likely redevelopment of a section of the Long Island City waterfront that surrounds Anable Basin, where Amazon’s headquarters was proposed to be built. The 20-acres of property is owned by the plastics company Plaxall and the city.

Discussions concerning the development of the area are currently taking place, according to reports. City officials have been in talks with some of the stakeholders since the property will have to be rezoned.

Van Bramer said that he was very circumspect about the development around Anable Basin and told the audience that the discussion about the Anable Basin property is only taking place because “folks rose up and opposed the really bad deal that Jeff Bazos entered into with Andrew Cuomo.”

Van Bramer said he would oppose any development around Anable Basin that didn’t include neighborhood feedback and noted that if it is based around luxury apartments the plan “is dead on arrival.”

What would have been Amazon’s campus footprint in Long Island City (EDC)

“I’m not going to entertain anything unless it is a community driven process,” Van Bramer said.

The elected officials told an audience of about 100 attendees that the infrastructure in Long Island City is stretched and that greater outreach by the city and developers would be needed before they would entertain such development.

The topic of Amazon not coming to Long Island City was re-visited and Nolan explained why she supported the project while Gianaris and Van Bramer explained their reasons for opposing the deal.

Nolan said that the project would have provided Long Island City with high-paying jobs on an underutilized property. She fears that the site will instead be developed for luxury apartments.

She said that the state and city were listening to the community—even though the plan wasn’t going through the City Council via ULURP. She noted that the ULURP process was not necessarily the panacea and that there have been projects that were approved that did not have the support of the public.

While she didn’t provide examples, there have been unpopular projects in western Queens approved by the City Council as part of the ULURP process that were rejected by the community board.

Community Board 2 Rejected Jerry Wolkoff’s 5Pointz Plan but Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and the City Council approved it during ULURP (Photo: Queens Post)

For instance, Jerry Wolkoff’s 5Pointz project got the blessing of Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and the city council despite Community Board 2 unanimously rejecting it.

Gianaris and Van Bramer said that Amazon received strong pushback since it failed to include the community in any real discussion and that the state and city tax giveaways were too high. Van Bramer also noted the tech-giant’s anti-union stance.

“When rich people conspire with the governor to tell us what is going to be the future of our neighborhood then we fight back and rise up and we defeat those forces,” Van Bramer said.

He said that a major problem with Amazon was that it was going to bypass the traditional ULURP procedure that involves community board involvement, town hall meetings and ultimately a council vote.

Gianaris said whether it be Amazon or any large-scale development he wants community involvement.

“My position has always been consistent. If someone has a plan we better be represented at that table. I’m not going to go along with something that is just dropped on us,” he said, noting his concern for the area’s stretched infrastructure.

Assembly Member Cathy Nolan at Sunnyside town hall (Photo: Queens Post)

Nolan said that she was opposed to the influx of luxury housing in Long Island City and reiterated her disappointment that the Amazon deal did not go through.

“I want to make it clear that anyone who is telling you that [the Amazon deal] was all bad…is unrealistic and a bit disingenuous.”

She said that the site could have been the home to thousands of jobs but is now more likely going to one day be apartments.

She said that prior to the Amazon deal she called for a building moratorium on development in Long Island City because there was too much housing. However, since Amazon pertained to jobs and industry she supported it.

Nolan said that she initially signed on to a letter calling Amazon to come to western Queens. “Seventy elected officials signed that letter…it was very serious to me and I consulted with a lot of people.”

“I think we lost a chance to have a lot of high tech jobs. I think it would have been good for the community if done right and the General Project Plan was a away to achieve that.”

While the General Project Plan bypasses ULURP, she said that an advisory board had been created that was making progress. She said it could have brought real benefits to the people of Queensbridge and Ravenswood.

Furthermore, the General Project Plan still requires an environmental review, it allows the community to comment in a public forum and is subject to nonbinding input from the City Planning Commission and the community board.

“The site is there, and there is pressure to develop it…I think it could have been something that worked and I still hope it is something that works,” Nolan said.

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Stay Progressive

Respectfully disagree with Nolan. Amazon is an unethical company and like Alexandra Occasia Cortez, Bernie Sanders and others have stated, pays starvation wages and doesn’t give comparable healthcare benefits.

There is no way them moving to LIC could have been done in a right way. It is run by the worlds richest man and he didn’t get there through social good.

Thanks for the article, Christian Murray.

Ibn Battuta

Why is this being characterized as an “unpopular” project? Every single poll said the vast majority of queens residents, particularly in the housing projects, was in favor of this deal. Just b/c a small coalition of loud, white, entitled, millennial “socialists” – most of whom are not from queens originally – didn’t like it does not mean it wasn’t popular.


These local politicians literally couldn’t do worse if they tried. They suck up to some people who are attracted to certain things they do, then make the worst decisions possible for the overall growth and improvement to the area. What an amazing shot we had to do something great and our fearless leaders of JVB, Gianaris & AOC just took a d*mp on us. And there’s literally no ramifications outside of voting them out of power…of which, there’s plenty of time for them to cover their butts and make us forget about this tragedy that unfolded. What a total disaster and scam.

Richard Vagge

with Caution
Do it Right !
Richie V
The Rabid
Activist of
Jackson Hts


The pols who senselessly killed to Amazon deal are going to have to explain that act of sheer incompetence and stupidity from now until forever. Poll after poll shows local supermajority support for that deal, which also had the backing of the local NYCHA tenants’ associations.

absolutely right

We should force these pampered privileged hipsters take them in as borders so they can have access to resources and infrastructure…no more segregation by gentrification…the homeless have a right to live in luxury apartments in LIC…no more talking the talk…lets see the progressives walk the walk…Social Justice!!


Thanks to these shortsighted politicians whom pushed Amazon away. LIC is becoming the known “nothing is happening” “boring” neighborhood.

ibn battuta

And now it’s going to stay that way. A bedroom community for single professionals working in Manhattan. Thanks JVB and MG. Hope you’re happy (Cathy Nolan for President!)


Everyone will gain: homeless, low income, young grads, Queens colleges, local businesses, parks, recreation.
A dynamic energy boost for the entire city.


They oppose developments that don’t include the community but refuse to participate in a community advisory committee.

They don’t want luxury apartments so they defeat an alternative plan without offering any other visions for the space.

They say they won’t go along with something “just dropped on us” after signing the letter inviting the company to our neighborhood.

They say our infrastructure is stretched and don’t understand how tax incentives lead to infrastructure improvements.


Push a once in a lifetime opportunity away and you get nothing for the area. Great to know it was done because JVB couldn’t deal with “rich people” conspiring with the head of NY state to force our neighborhood in a direction. What is your idea for the neighborhood, JVB? What’s the direction now?


So many politicians screwed up this great development opportunity. JVB, AOC and Gennaris need to go. It would have meant money for infrastructure and jobs for all. How could they be so blind and careless?


It must really burn you up that LIC (been here for 22 years) and Queens has turned so progressive Lefty.
Well, it has and it is gonna stay that way – expect AOC and Gennaris to serve as long as they want to.
And I am a 65-year-old native New Yorker who works for a non-profit for my middle-class income so don’t try that ‘hipster’ name-calling with me.

ibn battuta

I don’t see much “progress” here. Seems were going to be stuck with the same old same old along that waterfront for quite some time. Thanks, “progressive.”

Help the Homeless

We should include a state-of-the-art shelter built from the ground up for the homeless, instead of continuing the pattern of sheltering this vulnerable population, many tucked away in industrial zones with absolutely no resources or infrastructure available to them. Let’s turn-the-tide on the pattern the Mayor of NYC has followed with respect to housing this population in hotels and ware-houses transformed into shelters, out of the site of the limousine liberals living in million-dollar condos. The effort to shelter people in appropriate locations is a responsibility that all communities in our district should share.


Absolutely…Build a homeless shelter on beautiful waterfront property…brilliant idea. While we’re at it lets give the homeless yachts to dock in front of their new residence.


Even better:
The empty Manhattan high rises are PERFECT for the homeless.
They’re already built with tons of space, so the homeless can spread out. There is even room for a first aid/drug treatment center for them.
And since there are no “neighborhoods” in Manhattan, there would be little impact, when they’re all let out in the daytime, to panhandle, nap in the parks, and threaten passers-by.
There’s just something wrong with porting the homeless away from their home borough. As we know from the arguments in favor of closing Rikers, folks need to be near the area that they know best.


are you crazy? So LIC can become a gathering spot for homeless people? LIC is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods because it is family friendly, has nice parks / shops, and has lots of transportation options. People don’t move to the neighborhood because of the homeless population. Keep LIC safe and family friendly.


I hate to tell you this but there are already homeless shelters in LIC. And there’s another one under construction on 44th Drive in Court Square in-between the upcoming Orange Theory Fitness and that expensive Corte building. It has remained under wraps for some reason so not many know.

How about a dog shelter?

You would have a better chance getting the progressive limousine liberals to build a shelter for dogs. They love their destitute animals, human beings… not so much!


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