Making it happen in LIC

Making it happen in Long Island City

YESTERDAY at the LIC Summit one of the speakers marveled at how everyone on the panel lived in Brooklyn and was talking about LIC.  In fact given that this panel and several others included NYC policy makers the reality is that they were not only commenting about Queens but also deciding its fate when it comes to big decisions.  Which I guess is how these things shake out when hiring decisions are made, but shouldn’t there then be extra special attention paid to the community voice and an awareness that these areas are not blank slates?

The obvious answer is ‘yes’ but the bureaucratic one is ‘huh?’  Our last post talked about the ‘Water’s Edge’ development, and that proposal should be an interesting litmus test.  I learned yesterday that a) an answer should be forthcoming soon and b) there never was the intention of having a bake-off.  We’ll see.

More disconcerting was the advocacy of ‘densification’ by all the Brooklyn Intelligentsia as the solution to the city’s problems, and how Queens was Ground Zero to test their urban planning theories.  I believe it helps a few people and diminishes the quality of life for all – the only question is ‘To what extent?’  Either way, we will experience de facto densification in the addition of roughly 10,000 new units to LIC by 2020 and thousands of other units along the 7-train line outside of LIC.  Why not wait to see how that plays out?

Another sign of cluelessness occurred when an audience member asked the panel about one of my favorite topics: a community center for LIC.  Quite frankly, the panelists, both developers and policy-makers, really didn’t have an answer and danced around the question1.  Not that there is an easy answer for it now that all the planning has been finalized and partially executed.  What the audience member’s question did crystallize was the actual need for two community centers: one in Court Square and one in Hunters Point.  Lest I remind you that Battery Park City has two2 and is similarly inhabited by big towered buildings with lots of amenities onsite, but not all the offerings and classes of a community center.  Moreover as the audience member pointed out, these amenities keep each tower a silo, lessening the ability to make the area feel like a community – and there’s certainly no park nearby.

Planning mistakes made in the past are all the more reason for planners to listen to the community on projects that have yet to be undertaken.  Because we know what’s best for Long Island City.

//WHILE I’m a big proponent of having a say in the master plan and that which is under the governments control, I always find discussions about retail in LIC absurdist.  Yesterday at the Summit there was a retail panel largely debating and discussing and parrying the “There’s already too much of this, why isn’t anybody opening that, big-box and chain store worries, blah, blah, blah.”  What it boils down to is if you have a strong opinion then put down your own friggin’ money on a lease and open that hair-curler specialty store or wine bar focusing on the Gewurztraminer’s of eastern Arkansas.  Trust me, in due time capitalism will take care of your every need.  For now though you’ll have to satisfy yourself with the fact that a new drugstore will be opening in Court Square.  Per Patricia Dunphy at Rockrose, they are about to sign a 5,000 square foot lease in one of their buildings, and it sounds like it won’t be with one of the mass chains.

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  1. which reminded me a lot of their response to how they’d keep artists in LIC a few years ago []
  2. Asphalt Green BPC and Stuyvesant HS Community Center.  Plus, like LIC has the remotely located LIC YMCA, BPC has the Manhattan Youth Community Center (the third location w/ a pool) directly across the West Side Highway []
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  1. […] In fact the biggest thing that will differentiate the pair of towers on this plot from their brethren further south along the waterfront in LIC is their massive heights of 50 and 65 stories.  Of course that too is more of a confirmation than a surprise.  Oh sure, there will be some setbacks on these towers – unlike most of their southern LIC neighbors, and that too was already shared by his colleague over a year ago.  Unfortunately I imagine that that will be the only aesthetic “surprise” and Long Island City will once again get the short end of the stick when it comes to architecture, unlike the adjacent towns in Brooklyn: Greenpoint and Williamsburg, whose waterfront buildings (and inland too) are imaginative and varied. I don’t blame the developer in this case, I blame the decision-makers in the city – none of whom seem to reside in Queens. […]

  2. […] Point – the neighborhood where HQ2 will be located?  The simple answer is that heretofore Brooklyn had been running Queens, and thus imposing their own vision without walking the beat.  Or just lazily cutting and pasting […]

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