Last night I met with several of the Plaxall family members where they shared their just released plans to develop Anable Basin. These plans entail a major rezoning of the area, whose central theme is “bringing LIC to Anable Basin” by opening up the shoreline surrounding it to the public and making it easily accessible via newly created pedestrian lanes that would slice through their current plots. The initial blueprint would be a mix of residential, retail, and a doubling of their current industrial space, in the hope of making the area one that’s 24/7 instead of the stark division currently in LIC where an area is utilized by business during the day or inhabitants at night, but not both. Also a new school would be built away from the site on a nearby Plaxall holding on 11th Street.
To help put it all together the family recently hired Jonathan Drescher, previously the Director of Major Projects for the Durst Organization, who expects the zoning process to take most of 2018 with the hope that the initial phase begins in 2019. As one would expect with his arrival, the plan also contains the considerable upsizing of the amount of buildable square footage that would be allowed, leading to the possibility of a 70-story waterfront tower and 5,000 new residential units. It would also incorporate many of the development buzzwords coursing through City Hall these days: multi-use zoning, increased densification, and of course the requisite “affordable housing.” Cynicism aside it’s not an unreasonable plan as I view it, with one glaring omission – which I’ll get back to.
First let’s tackle my usual objection to the concept of densification. It’s ‘usual,’ because I’m also reasonable and willing to compromise. As with the Water’s Edge development, upon which I shared similar thoughts a month ago, towers along the waterfront are the highest and best use of this land, and much better alternatives to upzoning inland or decking over Sunnyside Yards.
As for affordable housing, currently the project would set aside 25% of the units, or a 5% additional bonus to the de Rigeur 20%. Oh well, de Blasio just won in a landslide, or maybe it was uncontested? Either way, any higher percentage will reduce concessions for the rest of LIC.
Finally, when it comes to the all-encompassing generic term “mixed-use,” as I’ve previously stated I’m largely indifferent, as long as this ‘goodie’ is not weighted too heavily. Though I’m skeptical of the term and how (or whether) it’s really employed, I do believe the Plaxall family 1 have been very good stewards both of their own chunk of the neighborhood and the interrelationship of their tenants (think LIC Flea, Rockaway Brewery, Krypton Neon) with the rest of LIC. Therefore I have faith in their ability to properly cultivate this new undertaking. Were this any other large developer, where Return-On-Investment in a low-return environment were the sole measure and the land acquisition price top dollar, I’d be a lot more worried as to how the plans would unfold (and change) over the next 15 years – the expected timeline of final completion.
Despite the benevolent overseers of this acreage, let us not forget that with the sacrifice of Hunters Point South they are now the owners of the Most Valuable Piece of Land in America – if they can get it zoned as such! To do so they need community support …supposedly. That is where the omission comes into play.
Because in addition to being the MVPLA, it will also reside in a neighborhood that for all intents and purposes is the only one in NYC without a real recreation center including a pool. This is an absolute disgrace, and the only way to rectify it in the 21st century in Gotham is by including it in a grand plan, because it’s just too big of a concession for a one-off tower, no matter how tall. At 70-stories – and I’m not necessarily endorsing that height 2 – the largest building will contain twice as many floors as 15 Central Park West3. A building that I believe it will be comparable to a decade from now, especially given it’s placement directly on the East River. As such, it will be the capstone of a grandfather’s vision, not to mention extraordinarily lucrative. Thus in order for it all to happen, it is time to make the Louis Pfohl Recreation Center a reality.
Anable Basin Plan – photos, photos, photos …er renderings of the new plan
Plaxall – all about the family’s history in LIC
A Record Breaking Tower is Proposed for Queens – the NYT is good, but LICtalk knows the ‘hood
De Blasio’s Brooklyn-Queens Trolley May be a Pipe Dream – renderings or not
BQX Unveils First Streetcar Prototype – unfortunately it can’t fly thru the air
Driver Claims He Didn’t Know He Ran Over Kid Who Threw Eggs At His Car – this guy needs to shut up and get a lawyer fast
Sweet Chick, Known for Chicken n Waffles, to Take Over Alobar Site – so much for the Smookler’s steak house I guess
MoMA PS1 Thief Caught On Camera Trying to Send Back Photos – see the video
Hotel Plan on Northern Blvd Ditched For Rentals – 289 ‘keys’ will be replaced by 140 ‘units
- As many locals know, Plaxall owns most of the structures surrounding this part of the waterfront, as well as a hodgepodge of other plots and buildings scattered around Hunters Point. These were all purchased by the grandfather of the current descendants, Louis Pfohl, who acquired and developed these lots over many decades beginning 70 years ago. [↩]
- remember this is the initial negotiating request [↩]
- 15 CPW is 550′ high, this will be 700′ [↩]