A Long Island based plastics manufacture named Plaxall had plans to redevelop the Anable Basin in Long Island City (LIC) in 2017. It was a small river basin running along the East River that would be zoned for Light Industrial, and include a mixed use for housing, artist’s studios, a public school, and even green space open to the public.
As far back as 2005, LIC was beginning to change; and why not—location, location! Just 15 minutes from Midtown, Long Island City has 12 bus routes, 2 commuter ferry terminals, 8 subway lines—and conveniently close to two major airports (LaGuardia, and Kennedy).
Amazon noticed what many developers were starting to see post-Great Recession in 2010. The surrounding area started to take off! Old warehouses and vacant buildings were being torn down to accommodate High-Rise apartments, and restaurants.
There are 60,000 plus residents who currently call LIC home. In the next two years, that number will explode. Companies such as JetBlue, Uber, Ralph Lauren, and CitiBank are currently operating there now, and you definitely feel the congestion of the transportation systems, road and rail.
There is fear that with the announced $150,000 average Amazon salary, that the current residents may be at risk of being forced out. With the decision for the HQ2 in LIC, came an accelerated sale of luxury residential units selling out fast as the space is available. The prices are certainly on the rise. A fear may be realized…
Gentrification, lack of affordable housing, and infrastructure concerns are on the minds of many current residents. The New York taxpayers are becoming leery as well. They already have some of the highest tax rates in the country.
In addition to NYC’s $180 million infrastructure investment to the Anable Basin (proposed location of HQ2), New York state will give out $1.5 billion in tax credits to the tech giant. And let’s not forget the tax-payer funded Amazon Helipad!
Now the pay-off and challenge is in the details and expectations. Amazon promises to bring 25,000 new jobs by 2029, and invest 3.6 billion over the next 15 years. Amazon is also agreeing to adhere to the Waterfront Design Guidelines set by the LIC commission. The guidelines stipulate that the development must reflect the industrial and creative character of the area, and offer open spaces to the public. Amazon plans to build a public school, a 3.5 acre waterfront esplanade, and create a Fund to support local infrastructure. New York City, and State officials are promising a 9 to 1 ROI on this much anticipated HQ2.
Everyone’s vision and hope is ensuring that there is not displacement of people and the enriching LIC diversity and culture with HQ2. We do know there will be obvious change of the landscape, and the pressures to the infrastructure. It will be a dramatic venture where a giant business entity, developers, and the New Yorker will have an opportunity to build a successful cultural and economic melting pot that the world will be eager to see come together.