By NATHAN DUKE
A new development in Long Island City will include the preservation and restoration of a natural waterfront habitat, the site’s developer said.
Real estate developer TF Cornerstone released a waterfront master plan on Wednesday for the Long Island City Innovation Center (LICIC) site, a mixed-use development that will include affordable industrial space, workforce training, offices, a school, affordable housing and public open space.
The plan—designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and waterfront resiliency and sustainability experts—will include a natural shoreline habitat restoration, green space and public waterfront access. It will utilize landscape and urban design practices, and accentuate the naturally occuring cove and wildlife habitat along the East River. Local residents will be given an opportunity to provide ideas for the project.
The LICIC site will be designed by Douglaston architect Michael Arad, a partner at Handel Architects who designed the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site.
“Retreating from the waterfront is neither a viable nor smart option,” said Jake Elghanayan, a principal at TF Cornerstone. “For the past several months, we have been working closely with waterfront and habitat restoration experts to revitalize and enhance the natural marine habitat that has existed here for generations.”
The project’s waterfront public-access component includes positioning the LICIC buildings on the far eastern edge of the site, thereby maximizing the waterfront area to create an acre of public open space that would connect the local community with the waterfront. The space is also expected to include a public indoor waterfront atrium.
The natural shoreline habitat restoration will include the preservation and enhancement of Anable Cove, a small estuarine habitat along 44th Drive that has shallow, still water and forms a refuge for marine life.
As part of the site’s development, nearly half an acre will be returned to the river as a marine habitat. Boulders and stones will replace an old platform, which will also include plantings and stairs that will allow visitors to go right up to the shoeline’s edge. The area will be designed with bioswales and other self-draining landscape elements to prevent flooding during severe storms.
The river bottom will be cleared of debris that has accumulated over decades, and the area will be restored as a protected habitat from the East River’s strong currents.
The LICIC site is expected to bring 100,000 square feet of new light-manufacturing and industrial space back to the neighborhood. Approximately 50,000 square feet will be operated by the nonprofit Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC).
Nonprofit C4Q will create a tech hub in the region, bringing 400,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,500 permanent jobs as well as workforce training, office and incubator space, and an arts-and-technology accelerator.
The site will include 250 units of affordable housing, a new 600-seat middle school and cultural and performance space.
Following a request-for-proposal process by the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), TF Cornerstone, C4Q and GMDC were selected to create the development.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the EDC should consider the community’s concerns about the site.
“I am studying the EDC’s plans and will be taking input from all members of the Long Island City community before coming to any decisions about this proposal,” he said. “The community’s concerns regarding affordability and the availability of open public space must be addressed.”