A new elementary school and public open space will be created in exchange for approval of the controversial project. On October 31, 2018, the City Council voted to approve multiple applications for two mixed-use towers with 481 new residential units at 26-32 Jackson Avenue and 27-01 Jackson Avenue in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens. The applications, known locally as the Long Island City Ramps project, previously faced much opposition from the community. For CityLand’s prior coverage of the Long Island City Ramps project, click here.
Previously, at the Subcommittee public hearing on September 17, 2018, several people voiced concerns about the scale of the project and the stress the new buildings would put on a neighborhood facing rapid and ongoing development and construction. At the public hearing, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area where the buildings will be constructed, expressed concern about adding hundreds of families to the neighborhood when there were no additional school seats to accommodate the new children.
On October 24, 2018, Council Member Van Bramer announced that the developer Lions Group NYC and the City reached a deal in which the land under the Queensboro Bridge approach ramps next to the project sites will be converted into approximately 50,000 square feet of public open space. The developer will fund $5.5 million for the design and construction of the public space under the ramps. The developer also signed an agreement with SEIU 32BJ to ensure good wages and benefits for building service workers in the new towers.
Additionally, the City committed to allocating funding for a new elementary school in Court Square. The elementary school will serve children from universal pre-kindergarten through the 5th grade. There is no information about the new school’s exact location or size. The addition of an elementary school and public open space helped address concerns raised by Council Member Van Bramer and members of the public at the Subcommittee public hearing.
Council Member Van Bramer said, “By approving this deal, we secured open space for a new public park, funding for a brand new UPK-5th-grade elementary school, 150 affordable housing units and good-paying, union jobs. This is a victory that will benefit the Court Square community for generations to come.”
On October 24, 2018, the applications passed both the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, and the full City Council Land Use Committee. On October 31, 2018, the applications were approved 48-1 by the Full City Council, with the support of Council Member Van Bramer.
Council Member Inez D. Barron was the only vote in opposition at both the Land Use Committee and full City Council vote. Council Member Barron stated at the Land Use Committee vote that she voted against the application because she believes it has an “inappropriate number of housing at so-called ‘affordable rates’ – it’s less than 30 percent in each of the two towers.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)