Sept. 14, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
The opening of Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island yesterday will not only pave the way for a new tech hub in New York City, but it will also bring change for one of the nearest neighborhoods to the site—Long Island City.
With the first wave of people arriving at the campus for academics and operations, including 300 graduate students and 30 faculty members, Long Island City is poised to see growth and tech-related development in the coming years.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer called the opening “a victory for Western Queens”, and pointed to the benefits of the campus to his district. “Long Island City will be a natural place for new tech businesses to call home, develop breakthroughs, and create jobs,” Van Bramer said in a statement.
In 2011, when Cornell Tech won the bid put out by Bloomberg to build an Applied Sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, the city predicted that the campus would generate up to 8,000 permanent jobs, spin-off companies in the hundreds, and stimulate more than $23 billion in economic activity in a 35-year-period.
Cornell Tech’s opening is “critical” to the future of Long Island City, according to Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership. “LIC’s diverse amenities will draw students and the live-work culture [to the neighborhood],” she said. “The commercial and industrial space here will create opportunities for entrepreneurs and startup companies coming out of Cornell Tech.”
The opening of the campus comes at a time when Long Island City is in the midst of rapid development, with one recent study noting that more new apartments have gone up in LIC since 2010 than in any other neighborhood across the nation. Although the area’s thousands of apartment units and the expected business growth is likely to mesh well, the neighborhood’s infrastructure is being stretched, civic leaders say.
Many argue that the subway is at capacity now and an influx of new people will make the situation worse. However, the recent addition of the Astoria ferry line–which goes to Roosevelt Island– will help alleviate some of that.
Brent O’Leary, founder of the Hunters Point Civic Association, said that while some residents are wary of the impact Cornell will have on the infrastructure, the response to the new campus has been positive overall.
The first phase of the Cornell Tech campus cost $700 million to complete, and more than 2,000 graduate students and hundreds of faculty and staff will be on the 12-acre campus when it is fully completed over the next several decades.