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Queens Chronicle

Shaping a vision for LI City’s coastline

Developers’ group hosts 100-plus for input on Anable Basin’s future

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:54 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

The Rev. Bishop Mitchell Taylor, founder of Urban Upbound, didn’t think that Amazon would pull out of an agreement to locate its second headquarters in Long Island City as it did in February in the face of some vocal political and grassroots opposition.

“I don’t think anyone thought that,” Taylor told the Chronicle said last Thursday.

But he was upbeat, speaking at an economic and career development meeting at the Jacob Riis Center in LIC’s Queensbridge Houses. Taylor and Gail Mellow, former president of LaGuardia Community College, moderated the workshop set up by Your LIC.

Your LIC is a consortium of three developers — L&L Mag, Simon Baron Development and TF Cornerstone — who collectively control part of the 28 acres at issue.

The site is in and around Anable Basin, from 46th Road to a little north of where 44th Avenue meets Vernon Boulevard, between Vernon and the East River.

The group came together at the behest of the City Council — many of whose members condemned the Amazon deal publicly — to craft a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

Well over 100 people attended the workshop, which consisted of group brainstorming sessions on how new development could benefit people looking to learn new skills, create careers or set up businesses. An unscientific survey found that attendees came from Queensbridge, the nearby Ravenswood Houses and the surrounding community.

“You live here,” Mellow said. “You work here. Your children are here. Your grandchildren are here. What can we do with this space?”

Taylor acknowledged that there were some built-in problems with the Amazon deal, negotiated in secret among the company, Mayor de Blasio’s office and Gov. Cuomo’s.

“We didn’t get a chance to chime in until it was upon us,” he said. While Taylor said the new process is more open, he also cautioned residents against being too easily swayed by “interlopers” from outside the community with their own agendas seeking to stop it.

Each focus group reported findings of their conversations to the rest of the room. Some of the ideas included open space; small business incubators; schools geared toward vocational and skilled trade training; schools focusing on technology skills and training; space for the arts and affordable living space and studio space for those in the arts.

“I want to see teen programs and more schools,” Ravenswood resident Carlene Gordon said. “I want to have a big supermarket.”

Members of the group Long Island City Coalition were present and handed out a three-page document titled Vision 2020.

It also is calling for a development that includes low- and middle-income residents that “requires resiliency, generous open space and green building practices ... [and] generates a balanced economy that protects small businesses, artists and artisans.”

The group wants the city and state to buy privately owned land within the flood plain in order to establish a park along the East River from Gantry State Park to past Anable Basin.

Future meetings, with no firm dates yet, will deal with schools, recreation and culture; resilience and public open space; and housing, transit and infrastructure. Members of the public can comment on the project at community/yourlic.nyc/upcoming-events.

Welcome to the discussion.