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Queens Chronicle

Ex-LaGuardia CC head to head outreach for LIC mega-project

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Posted: Monday, October 14, 2019 4:19 pm | Updated: 12:41 pm, Thu Oct 17, 2019.

A longtime Long Island City community leader will head community engagement and workforce development initiatives for a 28-acre, multi-developer mega-project planned for Anabel Basin.

T&F Cornerstone, Simon Baron Development and L&L MAG announced Monday that former LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow is taking on that role for "Your LIC," the neighborhood outreach process for the consortium's project.

The position will have her working with NYCHA tenant associations and other groups to create recommendations for the project's workforce development component. 

“This is such an exciting and important project for our neighborhood and the city at large, and I am thrilled to be doing what I love most — working with the community — to help turn their vision into a reality,” Mellow said in a statement.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, founder of the nonprofit Urban Upbound, will also support the community benefits engagement and workforce development initiatives.

The death of Amazon's plans for a headquarters facility at Anable Basin led to the birth of the multi-developer project. Earlier this year, the City Council and the de Blasio administration approached companies that own property in and around the land where the online retail behemoth planned to set up its complex. The idea is taking a unified approach to developing the expansive waterfront space.

Although no firm plan yet exists for the project, the consortium has agreed on a conceptual framework: creating a vibrant, 24/7 community on the waterfront, the representatives of TF Cornerstone and L&L MAG told the Chronicle in a sitdown interview last week.

Residential towers have been dominant in the LIC construction boom of recent years. While the new project will have housing, commercial and office space are the key element. 

Job creation will also be a focal point. 

"Again and again we've heard, 'Enough with the residential. We would love to see a commercial district here,'" L&L MAG Managing Director of Communications and Marketing Ashley Cotton said. "And again because Amazon sort of blessed the area and said, you know, 'This is a place where a global company would want to have their headquarters,' we believe strongly that there is an appetite for that."

Open space including a public waterfront esplanade and a contiguous bike lane are also planned. And the companies involved intend to work closely on resiliency planning for the project. 

The developers have been working closely with the offices of Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). Once a concrete plan is made, the project —  which will require a major rezoning — will enter the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a process the consortium intends to complete by the time Mayor de Blasio leaves office. His term ends in 2021.

Plaxall, a family-owned plastics company that has been a part of LIC for decades, owns much of the 28-acre parcel in question. The firm earlier had been in talks with the other landowners, though Cotton said it has "chosen not to continue."

"Our message to them is as clear as a bell: We wish they were here," she said. "We think the framework works much better when we're talking about all four property owners together. We can't make their decisions for them."

Unless Plaxall changes its mind, the land-use application for the project will only include parcels held by the other companies involved. 

James Yolles, a spokesman for Plaxall, on Tuesday told the Chronicle that the company is open to further discussions with the developers and city officials. 

During an Oct. 2 meeting of the Hunters Point Civic Association, Plaxall heard stakeholders say what they'd like to see developed on its properties at Anable Basin. Groups like the Court Square Civic Association, the Justice For All Coalition, the LIC Coalition and the Blissville Civic Association gave their input.

"We've spent a lot of time over many years talking with the community and the City about the need for comprehensive planning and thoughtful development along the waterfront, and about our property's potential for jobs and workforce development, affordable housing and resilient waterfront open space," Plaxall Managing Director Matt Quigley said in a statement. "We really appreciated the recent chance to hear from a range of community groups at a public meeting and look forward to more opportunities to hear from our neighbors soon. Comprehensive planning and input from the community will be integral to a practical, sustainable and successful plan for Anable Basin and the LIC waterfront." 

UPDATE

This story has been updated to include a statement and information from Plaxall. 

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