Long Island City, Woodside Eyed for Rezonings in Western Queens


Long Island City, Queens, is getting rezoned once again.

The Department of City Planning and City Councilmember Julie Won announced Tuesday that the city would study the mostly industrially zoned area along the Long Island City waterfront that stretches from Queensbridge Houses to Hunters Point for a rezoning to allow as-of-right residential development.

SEE ALSO: Developer Legion Files Permits to Demolish Office Building It Just Bought for $58M

The study would examine ways to create more housing, economic growth and open space, with an eye toward improving public transit, sewer infrastructure and community services. The rezoning area will run from Queensbridge Houses in the north to Gantry Plaza State Park in the south, and continue east to Court Square and 23rd Street. The Long Island City Industrial Business Zone is also part of the study area.

“With comprehensive planning underway, the community — and not real estate developers — will determine how we use our land so that our neighborhood grows with us affordably and sustainably,” Won said in a statement. “Our current developer-driven land use process has led to tremendous growth in our neighborhoods but at the cost of increased displacement, record high rents, a lack of school seats, greenspace, and much more.

Through comprehensive planning, our community’s needs for affordable housing, schools, parks, transportation, and climate resiliency can be addressed and built holistically, and not one lot at a time,” Won added. “By centering community voices, we will develop neighborhoods that meet our long-term needs, and finally put people before profit.”

The effort includes Anable Basin, which has been eyed by a number of residential developers for rezoning, as well as by Amazon in its ill-fated attempt to build a Long Island City headquarters, which the e-commerce giant eventually cancelled after fierce opposition from lawmakers and residents.

This isn’t the neighborhood’s first time being rezoned. Under the Bloomberg administration, industrial portions of Long Island City were rezoned several times, starting in 2001, then in 2004 and 2008 to allow residential development.

Separately, Won also announced a study called “Heart of District 26,” which would involve developing a comprehensive plan for parts of Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside. It will examine Northern Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue from Queens Boulevard to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Despite sandwiching Sunnyside Yards, the rezoning does not include the sprawling train yard that the de Blasio administration had hoped to redevelop into housing and offices.

The western Queens council member pitched the comprehensive plan as an alternative to piecemeal rezonings like the extremely fraught Innovation QNS project. Although Won ultimately approved the proposal, she spent months arguing that it didn’t include enough affordable housing, putting her at odds with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

That rezoning included an industrial stretch of 35th Avenue by Sunnyside Yards and Northern Boulevard, which is part of Won’s larger comprehensive planning effort. The megaproject, approved by the New York City Council in November 2022, is supposed to produce up to 3,200 apartments, roughly 1,436 of which would be affordable.

The first public meetings on the studies will take place next month

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com.