The firm is also working with the LaGuardia Community College and New York Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit that provides resources for artists and arts organizations, and is open to partnering with other local groups. Part of LICIC’s arts space will be dedicated to incubating Queens dance companies.
GMDC will manage affordable industrial space on the site, which is expected to bring up to 100 local manufacturing jobs back to Long Island City, an area with a strong industrial history. Many businesses based in the neighborhood are currently being priced out and this development could create more local options. LICIC in its entirety is expected to create 1,500 permanent jobs in Long Island City.
Meanwhile, C4Q will run workforce development, classroom and career training spaces that will serve adults from diverse and low-income backgrounds.
“The city needs more housing, but I think people also rightly recognize that you don’t want to displace industry because industry produces good-paying jobs and that’s how people can afford to live in New York,” Elghanayan said. “Parts of this project will be able to be used in other neighborhoods, particularly the mixing of light manufacturing with residential housing.”
LICIC must be vetted through the city’s public review process. TF Cornerstone has been working with residents, Community Board 2 and representatives from the Queensbridge Houses, staying open to recommendations. As part of a requirement set out by the city, the firm will find a replacement site for the Department of Transportation’s operations.
The project has an environmental component as well; TF Cornerstone will raise the site to help protect the area from major storms and flooding and will reduce its environmental impact by using sustainable practices.
It is hard to know what to expect from a development of this scale before it begins, Elghanayan said, but that TF Cornerstone is “much more careful now” thanks to important lessons it has gleaned from past projects.
The firm has a history of development in emerging neighborhoods. In addition to Long Island City, it has played a significant role developing the West Village, Financial District, Chelsea and Battery Park City, and prides itself not only providing quality properties, but on having a good relationship in the community.
The company is also hoping to break ground on a development in Hunters Point South by the end of the year that will be 60 percent affordable housing. Another recent project, 20 percent of which is affordable housing, opened at 33 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn last year.
LICIC is intended to create a neighborhood where residents can live, work and play, moving Long Island City away from its present-day reputation as a bedroom community with an industrial past and toward an area with an active street life.
Elghanayan believes the neighborhood’s unique mix of transportation, infrastructure and waterfront access is key to this goal, but that the secret ingredient is more organic.
“At the end of the day the community is the people,” he said. “People come in and create the environment.”