Hallets Point, Queens rendering by James Corner Field Associations
All you need is a Metrocard and a pair of eyes to realize that things in NYC are changing, fast. And even though it may seem like these changes have been mostly in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Queens has also been a prime target for development. Some new urban development plans may change Queens in more ways than you can imagine. We’ve made a list of major redevelopment plans to help you gain a general understanding of how the borough may transform over the coming years.
Image by STUDIO V Architecture
A controversial new rezoning and redevelopment plan for Astoria Cove aims to make the community more inclusive and more “aesthetically pleasing” in relation to the rest of the borough. Jay Valgora, an architect who works for the company behind recent redevelopments in nearby Hallets Point, says that Astoria Cove’s “under-used industrial spaces” are a “desolate eyesore.”
The projected redevelopment plan would take a decade to complete and its four phases would include the construction of three 26 to 32 story-high buildings, a children’s playground, a waterfront esplanade, and even a possible shuttle service to the subway. At the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance Conference recently, Joel Bergstein, president of Lincoln Equities spoke of the design challenges of the more isolated site, as Queens’ only peninsula and how the urban design paid homage to industrial, waterfront history of site with a permeable boardwalk.
They also looked at how to move away from standard planning to create a waterfront that better served the community. Says Bergstein, “By creating two traditional blocks, it wouldn’t be inviting to local community and the greater community. We created more upland connections, two more than required by City Planning. We gave much more open feeling and we created a plaza. Waterfront guidelines required 40 foot promenade, we exceeded that.”
Many people are skeptical of these plans though and are not convinced that redevelopment would help create good jobs or affordable housing. Community Board 1 will vote on the Astoria Cove redevelopment plan today.
Image via NYCEDC
The iconic chop shops at Willets Point surrounding Mets Stadium are in danger. 225 small businesses that provide low-income immigrants with more than 1,400 may be extinct after Economic Development Corporation goes ahead with a $536 million plan to build a 1.4 square foot shopping mall. That doesn’t mean they’ll be going without a fight though. Multiple lawsuits have been brought to the Supreme Court in the past few years by an organization of small business owners called Willets Point United. In addition, a minor scandal was uncovered when the Queens Chronicle released a map of the extensive redevelopment plans that were supposed to be shared with neighbors in Willets Point by the development company.
Image via www.nycedc.com
Jamaica is also due for a make-over soon. In an albeit more low-key development plan than that of the controversial plans for Willets Point, there are plans to build a mixed-use central business district that will compliment the extension on the Long Island Railroad and the completion of an AirTrain to Kennedy Airport. The entire plan should cost the city $225 million and will also include a 26-story commercial and residential tower, the largest private investment in the neighborhood’s history. There has been no major opposition to these redevelopment plans so far and many deals have already been confirmed with developers.
The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to returning the neighborhood to its past prosperity, has already reached deals on a $50 million dollar retail project about a mile from the train station, a 24-story hotel, and a 400-unit rental apartment building with 800 square feet of retail space at its base.
Perhaps the most infamous of all redevelopment plans in Queens is 5 Pointz. The borough’s “Institute of Higher Burnin'” or the “5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc.” had been famously “whited out” by developers last year, but what is the fate of the world’s “graffiti mecca” now that the art work is gone and the building stands vacant?
Well, until the decision goes before the mayor and the City Council, plans to transform 5 Pointz into two high-rise residential towers are still only in the works. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall had already given the OK for development plans to commence, but it will still take some time before G&M Realty, the company responsible for the redevelopment plans, will see their project through. Luckily, the Google Cultural Institute website will make it able for you to take a closer look at lost artwork through its new Street Art Project, which preserves close-ups of the building in its former glory.
The Long Island City redevelopment plan at Hunter’s Point South promises to bring a “mixed-use, affordable housing development” to approximately 30 acres of waterfront real-estate. Bloomberg had already cut the ribbon to the new Hunter’s Point South Park last year and developers continue to build on that momentum to totally redesign the neighborhood.
Phase 1 of construction, which should be completed by this year, will include a new school, retail space, and waterfront parkland. Thankfully, this project is connected to deBlasio’s Affordable Housing Plan which, if all goes as he says, should provide the city’s lower and middle class with much needed affordable gousing units.
Find out more by contacting the author @Douglascapraro