BY MELISSA GOLDIN
The future site of TF Cornerstone’s mixed-use development project in Long Island City is, at the moment, rather underwhelming. Though it sits on the waterfront, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, other than two nondescript Department of Transportation building and a pair of local restaurants, the property is a glorified parking lot.
Jake Elghanayan, the real estate development firm’s senior vice president and principal, sees more for the borough in which his family — and its business — has deep roots. His father and two uncles, who are among New York City’s most well-known developers, grew up on Rockrose Place in Forest Hills and TF Cornerstone was one of the first developers to build in Long Island City, at a time when the area was relatively unknown to those in other parts of the city.
“We believe in the neighborhood, we believe in building up the neighborhood,” Elghanayan told This is Queensborough during a recent walk around the site.
This next venture — dubbed LICIC — is about more than just adding another towering development to Long Island City’s quickly burgeoning waterfront. In fact, it is a long-term, capital-intensive project – just the remediation of the site could cost $100 million – that will deepen TF Cornerstone’s roots and investment in the community.
The project will be located just north of Gantry Plaza State Park, where TF Cornerstone developed a seven-building site.
Responding to a call for proposals from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, TF Cornerstone plans to partner with local organizations to build a first-of-its-kind project in New York City.
LICIC is the city’s experiment in using market-rate housing to not only fund affordable housing, but also light industrial uses, job training and cultural spaces. If successful, it could be replicated throughout the five boroughs.
“We really believe that this is a unique stretch of land,” Elghanayan said. “It has something that Manhattan can’t have because there is no vehicular structures along the waterfront. This can be a really exciting, 21st century environment. In a lot of other cities, the city and its waterfront are one.”
LICIC will be 45 percent residential, including a quarter of affordable housing, but it will also encompass 100,000 square feet of industrial space for small manufacturers, a one-acre park on the water, 25,000 square feet dedicated to the arts, a 600-seat public middle school and 400,000 square feet for offices, retail businesses and startup incubators.
Elghanayan pointed out that there weren’t a lot of developers willing to take on the city’s challenge to do something so different in a neighborhood that has recently been known primarily for its residential offerings.
Among TF Cornerstone’s partners are Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC), a nonprofit industrial developer, and Coalition for Queens (C4Q), a nonprofit founded in Long Island City that provides economic development and job training for the digital age.