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Van Bramer Condemns Development Plan Proposed for Former Amazon Site

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (left) and State Senator Michael Gianaris at an anti Amazon rally in 2018. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

July 8, 2020 By Christian Murray

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced last night that he is opposed to the plans put forward by a group of developers that would bring as many as 15 buildings to a 28-acre area in Long Island City.

Van Bramer, who has less than 18 months left in office due to term limits, posted a tweet that condemned the development that would go up by Anable Basin where the Amazon campus was slated to go.

“We cannot keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results,” he tweeted. “We need to fundamentally change how we view development in New York City. I do believe that something should happen on this land, but this proposal isn’t that something.”

The tweet then referenced an article in the Queens Eagle that included excerpts of a letter he wrote to activist groups that was critical of the project.

The developers, who need to rezone the area in order to move forward with their plans, will need the city council to approve it. Should the plans get to the city council for a vote by the end of next year, Van Bramer would likely determine their fate since the council typically follows the lead of the local member.

However, Van Bramer is term limited and he may well be out of office by the time it gets to the council.

Van Bramer in the letter to activists cited gentrification as a key reason for his opposition.

“There is no question that this project as proposed would cause rents to rise in the surrounding community,” Van Bramer said in the letter, which was included in the Queens Eagle article. “There are far too many luxury apartments included and the proposed affordability is simply unacceptable.”

Van Bramer did not respond to Queens Post’s request for comment nor a request for a copy of the letter.

The development plan–put together by TF Cornerstone, Plaxall, Simon Baron and MAG Partners—incorporates the sites where Amazon HQ2 was slated to be built as well as some adjacent parcels.

The city council requested the developers come together and produce one unified plan for the area as opposed to each having a separate concept for their own property.

The developers have produced a joint plan that would consist of 10-to-12 million square feet of space, with buildings that range in height from 400 to 700 square feet, the equivalent of 30 to 60 story structures.

Rendering of the development provided by YourLIC

The developers also formed a group, dubbed YourLIC, to get community feedback. The group has held five workshops—with two held virtually—to discuss components of the plan.

The developers—with the exception of TF Cornerstone—each own a portion of the 28 acre area. TF Cornerstone is looking to develop two city-owned lots on 44th Drive, which are part of the 28-acre area.

Van Bramer, like other elected officials such as Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, said that the public land should be exclusively for public use.

Rendering: LIC Coalition

“I have said before and I will say again that all of the publicly owned land in this site should be used exclusively for the public,” Van Bramer wrote in the letter. “Not handed over to developers for profit, and I strongly support a community land trust on this site.”

The sites surrounding Anable Basin have been the subject of controversy for some time, since several of them are where Amazon HQ2 campus was expected to go, which would have brought office space and jobs.

The tech giant abandoned its plan after getting pushback from elected officials such as Van Bramer, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Last week, Van Bramer was also critical of plans for a mega development on the border of Astoria and LIC that would bring as many as 2,700 residential units as well as commercial space in about a dozen buildings.

Van Bramer tweeted: “This proposal envisions luxury towers, some as tall as 26 stories, surrounded by two- to six- story buildings in a working class neighborhood. We do not want or need Hudson Yards East in #Astoria! ”

That project, which is also in Van Bramer’s district, also requires a rezoning and therefore city council approval.

The developers— Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners–plan to start the rezoning process next year. It remains to be seen if Van Bramer will still be in office at that time it goes before the city council.

Van Bramer has not always been opposed to rezonings and large-scale development.

In 2013 he approved a rezoning that permitted G&M Realty to build more than 1,000 units on the former 5Pointz site on Jackson Avenue. He voted to approve it—despite many progressives and artists saying that project would lead to gentrification. The community board also voted against the rezoning.

Van Bramer also voted for the expansion of the Business Improvement District into Hunters Point, after allocating $25,000 of city funds to study it.

Rendering of proposed development in Astoria/LIC. It includes 2,700 apartments

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22 Comments

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Why so much hate?

Why are people so comfortable openly expressing their hatred? Is it because they don’t want to have a reasoned policy debate over important issues relating to the development (or over-development) of our city? Is it because certain Fox News types would rather publish “confidential” conspiracy theories and character assassinations to try to be heard? Whatever it is, it’s a shame to see all of the hate, and those bad neighbors fanning the flames should apologize.

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No more jimmy

Our neighbors in Woodside and Sunnyside out of work and queuing for food pantries. Crime is on the up. Jimmy does nothing. He does nothing for the vast majority of this district.

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Johnny Cakes

Jimmy should become a magician after his term is up. He’s great at making himself disappear.

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LIC Direct

. Amazon will be JVB’s cross to carry Hooray he will never to hold another public office again…. He killed the Amazon deal when during city council hearings was just disgusting in his questioning to the Amazon panel. JVB really wants to leave NYCgo down to Key Lime Pie Heaven Key West, Florida.

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Sardine Island City

yea, just what LIC needs, more giant bldgs crammed with tons of people, packing the 7 train. Good luck getting on the subway

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So Amazon is like the bat signal for him???

Seriously, this dude only comes out when its about Amazon.

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Roberto

Sunnyside is about to go hot with crime but Jimmy Van Useless couldn’t give a dam.

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Larry Penner

Can the existing transportation, sewer, water and utility systems support such a huge development project? There is also the challenge of expanding fire, police, sanitation, schools and other critical municipal services to support the thousands of new residents and commercial development that would come with this project..

(Larry Penner — transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit, LIRR, Metro North, MTA Bus, NYC DOT along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).
.

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We can't trust the ultra-wealthy real estate developers

Except Trump because…maga or something?

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#wherejimmy?

People are leaving in droves so Jimmy does not want to do anything to entice new people to come. Got it! As long as he gets his direct deposit, why should he care?

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Gardens Watcher

This is exactly what was expected once Amazon HQ2 fell through: More high-rise luxury apts. Did you really think it was all going to be turned into a park and a playground?

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hey hey ho ho local pols got to go!

40,000 jobs up in smoke due to our local politicians big mouths and intimidation. Why would anyone want to do business here with people like that?
You cant trust these creeps.

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slither away van bramer

Van Bramer-you were for the Amazon HQ until Ocasio-Cortez told you to vote against it. what a hypocrite you are.just looking at you i want to take a shower, you are so slimy

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Comfieslippers

You’ve done enough damage JVB, and have been MIA during the pandemic. Keep walking down Skillman and keep your mouth shut.

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JVB is The WORST. Might as well elect a DOG or CAT

Wow!!! Jimmy in the news, looking to show his constituents he “cares”. But, how about you talk about the spike in crime. Stop sending tweets from the comfort of your own home. How about you hold a virtual town hall meeting to discuss the spike in crimes in our neighborhood. What does it have to take for you to actually do something!!! The death of an innocent child?? Like do something ! Speak up, bring the community together. You are what is wrong with the establishment. But if its the renaming of a park, or some dumb bike lane expansion JVB will be quick to use his twitter fingers in show of support, probably tweet some BS statistics bike lanes save the environment blah blah. You have one job TO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE. Which you are not doing. Do us all a favor and just quit and head to the Sahara Desert and open up some bike lanes.

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Vegans are annoying

Use eminent domain to make the area a public park. Let the political chips fall where they may.

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