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TF Cornerstone Says It Won’t Build Luxury or Market-Rate Housing on City-Owned Sites

The two city-owned parcels TF Cornerstone is looking to develop (EDC)

March 9, 2020 By Christian Murray

TF Cornerstone has pledged that it will not build market-rate or luxury residential units on the two publicly-owned sites on 44th Drive that it is looking to develop.

The announcement is a significant departure from three years ago when the developer was selected by the NYC Economic Development Corp. to build 1,000 dwelling units (250 were to be designated affordable) across the two sites.

TF Cornerstone is currently working with the EDC–an arm of city government– to develop two of the three publicly owned sites on 44th Drive—by the East River.

It is putting together plans to develop 44-99 44th Drive, the “Waterfront site’ that includes a city-owned parking lot and the former Water’s Edge property–as well as the “DOT site” at 5-40 44th Drive.

TF Cornerstone has no involvement with the Department of Education building, the third publicly-owned site on the block that is currently home to a 600,000 square foot industrial building, which is partially occupied by DOE employees.

“We are committing to not pursuing any market-rate or luxury residential uses for these sites,” said Ebony Young, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at TF Cornerstone in a statement. “There will be no luxury housing on public sites.”

Young indicated that the company had taken note of the push back in its initial 2017 plan received from the community.

“We have heard you all loud and clear–that [the sites] must be used for public good,” Young said.

TF Cornerstone did provide some information as to what it plans for the two sites, which total about 4.5 acres.

The company said it plans to allocate half of the DOT site for public open space– creating a community commons that could be used for public gatherings, markets and a variety of similar purposes.

The other half of the DOT site would include a new public school that faces on to the open space. The developer did not make clear whether office space or other uses would be part of that half of the site too.

TF Cornerstone didn’t provide much detail in terms of the “waterfront site,” other than saying the two sites are focused on creating significant public space.

The company, however, does plan to bring industry to the sites.

“We are also very focused on bringing good jobs to Long Island City through the creation of new commercial spaces that will feed into the existing business ecosystem in Queens,” Young said.

The former Water’s Edge site that is part of TF Cornerstone’s plan (Photo: QueensPost)

When TF Cornerstone was selected by the EDC to develop the two sites in 2017, it said it would build a school, 500,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space, 1,000 housing units and an acre of public space.

Shortly after the 2017 plan was announced TF Cornerstone and the EDC were subject to heavy criticism.

“There is going to be a huge, huge pushback through any public process as this goes forward about open space and affordability,” said Patrick O’Brien, a member of Community Board 2 who spoke at the November 2017 Land Use Committee meeting. “This message really needs to be driven home substantially; it needs to go up to a level that something is done about it.”

Rendering of the 28-acre YourLIC sites (Rendering: LIC Coalition)

TF Cornerstone is one of four developers that has been soliciting feedback from the public as to how these two parcels–and about a dozen others totaling 28 acres—should be developed.

In November the four developers formed YourLIC, an entity that aims to provide a mechanism for the public to weigh in on how the 28-acre area that surrounds Anable Basin and nearby should be developed.

The sites are largely privately owned with the exception of the two city-owned sites on 44th Drive that TF Cornerstone is looking to develop as well as the Department of Education property.

The privately-held sites are owned by L&L MAG, Simon Baron Development and Plaxall.

The group came together for the first time in November at the request of the city council, which wants the developers to come up with one unified plan for the waterfront as opposed to separate concepts.

The group has held workshops on small business creation, career development, open space and flood mitigation plans. The group will hold a fourth workshop March 9 starting at 6 p.m. online at YourLIC.nyc.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be held at Information Technology High School but has been taken online as a result of concerns stemming from the outbreak of Coronavirus.

Any plans that TF Cornerstone puts forward would have to undergo the public review process.

Despite its pledge not to build luxury housing, TF Cornerstone is still likely to get a cold reception from some quarters.

Groups like the Long Island City Coalition and Justice for All Coalition don’t want public land to be developed by for-profit companies.

“We represent a coalition of organizations that believes it is in the best interest of people who live and work in Long Island City (and for New York City as a whole) for the publicly owned sites at Anable Basin to remain in public hands,” the groups wrote in a joint opinion piece published on LICPost last month.

The groups cited Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who told Community Board 2 in January that if she were on the board she would put forward a resolution calling for the public land to be turned into a park for public use.

“We feel strongly that to convey the public sites on the Long Island City waterfront to TF Cornerstone or any other for-profit entity would amount to a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the public trust on the part of elected officials and community leaders,” the groups wrote.

A Rendering of the Sites Provided by YourLIC

 

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8 Comments

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hart

Hello? Isn’t waterfront property special?
Can’t they pack together low-income tenements further inland, and reserve
the waterfront areas on projects that will add prestige to the community and
enhance community life?

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Frank

If the goal is to bring jobs to LIC, didn’t that ship sail when our elected officials destroyed the Amazon deal?

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Harry Bingham IV

If you believe this tripe, you’ll believe anything. It’ll be “below market-rate” tiny one-bedrooms starting at $2,400.

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gag

Just a reminder that “below market rate” units are still very expensive.

But it’s nice that these units wont be designed for the highest income people out there. The city really should be building their own CO-OPs if they want to keep prices low.

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Queens bridge for life

Yup the well oiled machine that is NYCHA. They are the ones to fix it! I should probably explain to you that is sarcasm because you obviously haven’t been paying attention.

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Lic Local

I like parks as much as the next person. And LIC has done a great job incorporating them into developments in the past. But we can’t afford the parks that we have now! Just look at the fund drives for gantry park. Supply and demand: build more apartments and prices will come down. Put a kicker in the agreement where the developer maintains the park. Yes somebody might make a bunch of money…it’s ok. That same person might lose their shirt too. It’s called capitalism and it is not perfect.

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fuelgrannie

rent prices are never “coming down” in lic or anywhere in nyc: ever

when have rents ever gone down in nyc simply because a new building was built?

or ever, for that matter?

answer: never

it has never happened: it’s a yimby myth, it’s not the truth

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