THE headline above is a surefire way to deter clicks. The innocuity of once again announcing rezoning plans for Long Island City, is the equivalent of Situational Awareness Day (Sept. 26, sorry you missed it). Especially in 2023. We’ll get to the ‘Why’ in a moment, as for the Who/What/Where here we go.
Yesterday, the Mayor’s office, Julie Won, and a slew of other local politicians and constituencies held a press conference in Queensbridge Park to announce “The Long Island City Neighborhood Study.” This study is a prelude to a possible rezoning of parts of Long Island City, and:
“will aim to unite these disparate areas to create a vision for one holistic Long Island City neighborhood. The study will examine ways to create new housing, economic growth, transit connectivity, and open space, concluding with a neighborhood plan including zoning changes. The study will include proposed land use changes to guide new development in the neighborhood, as well as proposals for capital investments, programs, and services.”
Boiling the above down, the rezoning will largely focus on allowing residential buildings and upsizing in the industrial areas of LIC that are still zoned solely for industrial use. That’s fine. And to do it in a manner that doesn’t elicit enough opprobrium to scuttle the plans, by trying to assemble some kind of consensus. Not an easy task, but very understandable in 2023.
Specific goals include the classic-rock standards of 2023: affordable housing & reducing exposure to climate risk. Seemingly incompatible, I’m not sure how you achieve the latter by building more, but it sounds good. As well as “Enhance connectivity and multi-modal transportation options” and “Create and shape open green spaces.” Yup, another pair of 2023 standards, but the latter is not going to happen.
That’s because of the “Where,” an area we refer to as “the urban forest that is the warehouse district south of the bridge, north of 44th Drive and west of 23rd Street,” which is the largest swath of the rezoning area. There simply is no green space in this part of LIC.
As for improving transportation in this area, some sections have great accessibility to public transport (the northern and eastern fringes), others are a haul and not fixable. In both cases, were people to decide to live in these areas, they are willing to accept these compromises, no biggie.
Which is why this whole planning process and press conference comes across as not overly exciting or revelatory. The properties have a multitude of owners, so holisticity is mainly lip-service. And the reality is that the economy will be the main determinant as to what gets built and where. As growth slows here in the city and nationwide, I expect development to be more piece-meal were this area to be rezoned.
In 2023, if you really want to achieve all the goals in this plan, there are only two plots of land in LIC where it is doable. The Waterfront surrounding and immediately north of Anable Basin, and Queensbridge, that’s it. Unlike the announced plan, both would entail a ton of work – physical, mental, and emotional, and both would be truly transformational. Robert Moses where art thou?
Council Member Julie Won Announces Comprehensive Community Planning For District 26 – includes 15+ ‘huzzah’s’ from pols and pro’s