Tag Archives: NYCEDC

Industrial Business Zones in danger of losing funding


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Ted Renz is hoping what he fought so hard for won’t soon end.

Just last November, Renz, director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, was at the forefront of the fight to get the neighborhood included in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program.

But only three months later, the IBZ may be in jeopardy, as Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in funding in his preliminary budget for the program, an initiative left over from the previous administration to save manufacturing jobs.

“We are disappointed that it wasn’t in the mayor’s budget,” Renz said. “We thought that he was a big supporter of manufacturing jobs. We hope that it will be reinstated (in his final budget).”

IBZs were created to stabilize industrial areas and spur growth in the manufacturing sector by offering tax credits of up to $1,000 per employee for businesses that relocated to them, and additional services to help companies grow.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated nearly $4 million to 16 IBZs in 2006.

However, since its inception, funding decreased to about $1.1 million in 2013. Bloomberg himself hasn’t allocated money to the initiative since 2010, but the City Council has restored it every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The move could mean de Blasio, who supported manufacturing jobs during his campaign, will engage a different strategy to assist the sector, although his administration has not come up with any specifics.

“The de Blasio administration is committed to making smart, impactful investments that will help industrial business thrive in New York City, and is working with our agency partners to take a fresh look at the suite of programs that support this critical part of the city economy,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Spending differences in one program do not speak to the overall commitment to industrial firms and their jobs.”

Despite the decline in funding over the years, the program has grown to 21 IBZs, including Ridgewood and Woodside last year.

Community Board (CB) 5 especially pushed for the Ridgewood IBZ against opponents, which are owners who wanted to use their properties for residential use instead of industrial.

“It enables us to promote businesses more in that area and advocate for businesses, and provide programs for manufacturing,” said Renz, who is a member of CB 5.

In March, the city council will review the preliminary budget, and some are touting the IBZ’s signficance. “I am committed to restore it,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “I know it is important not just to Maspeth and Ridgewood, but the rest of the city. It is something that the council treasures.”

 

 

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City still tallying Willets Point business owners who took final payout to relocate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city is still tallying the number of Willets Point business owners who took a final payout to relocate, officials said.

A pooled $3.5 million was up for grabs for auto shop owners in the Phase 1 area of the development site who agreed to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of January.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) offered shop owners a payout equal to one year’s rent, if they relocated by Nov. 30, and six months’ rent, if they left between December and the end of January.

The city was still making final counts Wednesday, an EDC spokesperson said, adding that a more concrete number would be available next week.

In December, nine businesses agreed to vacate by Jan. 31 and 22 took a payout to relocate by November, according to Megan Montalvo, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area.

At the end of November, 30 relocated, signed new leases or are close to doing so, she said.

About 50 business owners from the Sunrise Co-op, a large group fighting to relocate together, are inching closer to signing their own lease with the city to move as a group to the Bronx, Sunrise leader Sergio Aguirre said.

“We will have good news soon,” he said.

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land, and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

 

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Developers close on Flushing Commons deal: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the near decade-old $850 million Flushing Commons project have closed on a deal to buy the parking lot where the housing and retail complex will be built, according to Crain’s.

TDC Development International, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management with financing from Starwood Property Trust purchased the site for $20 million, the business publication reported Wednesday.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

The 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, was slated to headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said.

It will now be built in the project’s second phase, Crain’s said, with more housing, commercial and community space.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, according to the NYCEDC.

 

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Department of Buildings reviewing Flushing Commons permit


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the long-stalled $850 million Flushing Commons project have filed their first permit with the city’s Department of Buildings, according to Crain’s and city officials.

A DOB spokesperson said the department received and will review an application from TDC Development International and The Rockefeller Group.

The near decade-old project will bring housing and retail to downtown Flushing but, according to Crain’s, construction has to begin by October 31, under a contract between the city and developers.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000- square-feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) said.

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

A 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, will headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said. The second phase includes more housing, commercial and community space.

Developers want to modify a portion of Municipal Lot 1 in downtown Flushing, though NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky said existing parking spaces would be maintained during construction.

There will be a total of 1,600 parking spaces — an increase of 500 — at the project’s completion, according to officials.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, the NYCEDC said.

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

 

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Concern in College Point over police tow pound


| mchan@queenscourier.com

College Point leaders fear crumbling roads in an already congested neighborhood will not be able to handle a new police tow pound that “magically appeared” out of nowhere.

State Senator Tony Avella said NYPD tow trucks have been bringing cars in and out of College Point Corporate Park for more than two weeks without first alerting the community.

“This is going to have a major impact on the local area,” he said. “You have tow trucks coming and going all hours of the day and night. You now have more congestion in that area.”

The 31-22 College Point Boulevard lot in the industrial, retail center is approximately 174,000 square feet, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

The NYCEDC oversees the corporate park but has not run the property in question since November 2012, the spokesperson said.

Local leaders said they know little about the use and duration of the operation. An NYPD spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

“This just magically appeared maybe three weeks ago,” said Andrew Rocco, president of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association. “Nobody was informed about it.”

Rocco said the tow pound would increase traffic on deteriorating roads marked with potholes. The area’s infrastructure also has to hold a new police academy currently being built, he said.

“There’s going to be 5,000 people coming in and out of there,” he said. “It’s just one insult after another.”

Avella said the tow pound is also operating without having gone through a lengthy vetting process called a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which seeks feedback from the community board, borough president, Planning Commission and City Council.

Community Board 7 declined to comment at this time.

“The streets are falling apart,” said Joe Femenia of College Point. “The idea of a corporate park is bringing in businesses. When you put in a municipal work there, it counts as zero.”

“They keep sticking things in this district,” Femenia said. “That’s a cause for concern.”

 

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Bayside developer to turn vacant Flushing property into mixed use development


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

A Bayside developer has been tapped to transform a vacant Flushing property into a mixed use development.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced it has selected Success 88 LLC, headed by Betsy Mak, to turn an abandoned site at 135-15 40th Road into 12,000-square-feet of community, commercial and retail space.

“Flushing continues to thrive and this project […] will add to the community’s economic growth,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

The current 5,000-square-foot building on the property was previously used as office space for the city’s Department of Sanitation until it was vacated in 2005 due to structural damage by adjacent construction, officials said.

The NYCEDC said Mak has a “long history of developing and renovating properties across the city,” including 30 projects in Queens. Her company, officials said, has agreed to hire locally to fill jobs generated by the project, as well as seek public input to determine how the community space will be used.

“Success 88 LLC is grateful for the opportunity to turn the property on 40th Road into a prominent structure that will fit well into downtown Flushing,” the company said in a statement. “We are anxious to begin this exciting project that will benefit the local community. Our hopes are to develop a multi-use and multi-functional building that will blend well into the neighborhood, and provide growth potential for local small businesses. This will provide an economic boost to Flushing by creating new opportunities and jobs.”

Courier hosts Power Breakfast on future of LIC’s tech boom


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), made clear that as business sectors based in the city move forward, technology will become more crucial.

“As we like to say at EDC: whereas in the past the technology industry was a sector; increasingly, today, the economy itself is the tech sector.”

Pinsky was a featured panelist for the “The Future of LIC: How the tech boom will affect you & your business!” — a power breakfast host by The Queens Courier in part with TD Bank — on Thursday, October 11, which gave a glimpse of what will become of the growing technology growth in Long Island City.

The breakfast played host to panelists: Carol Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and public affairs director for Con Edison; Andrew Kirby, president of Plaxall; Greg Pass, entrepreneurial officer for CornellNYC Tech; Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens; Elias Roman, CEO and co-founder of Songza media; Elliot Park of Shine Electronics; and Gayle Baron, president of LIC Partnership. Featured elected officials who spoke included Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer kicked the morning off by noting that what was core to Long Island City were the arts and culture that had found a home in the region.

“Who in here believes that culture and the arts drives Long Island City,” Van Bramer asked the hundreds present and was answered with hundreds of applause.

Pinsky, head of the EDC since 2008, said it was important that the city take the lead in the ever-changing tech world. Some of the ways New York has begun to do that, he said, included the Cornell Tech Campus that will have a home on Roosevelt Island and incubators in Long Island City to boost start-ups and small businesses.

“First, the sector itself is a critical and growing sector,” Pinsky said. “We’re increasing employment, we’re seeing more economic activity, but I think that’s only half an answer. And that’s because the real reason why we’re so focused on the tech sector is that in the 21st century the tech sector will also be critical to the success of almost every other sector in our city’s economy. If our city doesn’t take a leadership in technology we’ll find it increasingly difficult to maintain our leadership position in anything else that we do.”

See photos from the event

As Cornell Tech, along with other satellite campuses across the city, begin to produce ambitious minded tech experts, they will most likely find a home in Long Island City because of its location and comparatively cheaper rent prices than Manhattan, several speakers said.

Plaxall over the last 20 years has fostered the art community that gradually grew in Long Island City, and now that community will be mixed with a technology community, said Kirby, who runs the real estate company with his cousin. The end result would be something Kirby said would be “amazing.”

“We already have the creative artists, now we can bring the creative technological people to Long Island City and to do that we need to do things that will make this an attractive area for them,” Kirby said. “I think Long Island City has the potential to be a location where we merge technology and art to create some amazing things.”

To attract the expected influx of techies, Plaxall is laying out plans for a community that could foster a merger between the arts and technology, Kirby said.

This community would be on 12 acres on the East River around what is known as the Anabel Basin. This community would include a mixed-use area of residential towers and buildings for technology companies, Kirby said. The vision for this area is to create “really a sustainable community where people can live, work and play that will attract the best and the brightest.”

Roman, the youngest speaker on the panel, said afterward that technology and culture had already become one in another and could open the doors for more and more potential.

“There’s an interesting intersection between technology and culture, where the technology becomes invisible and it’s all about the culture,” he said. “I think that’s a really exciting intersection to be at.”

‘Don’t sell out’: Brooklyn holdouts’ message to Willets Point owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The battle against the behemoth billion dollar Barclays Center has long been lost for some Brooklynites, but leading opponents of the project are hoping the war waged against the city will be won in Willets Point.

“Fight to the bitter end,” said Donald O’Finn, one of 14 Brooklyn plaintiffs that took state developers to court in 2009. “These are really important fights. We lost our battle, but the war is not done.”

The Barclays Center — Brooklyn’s new 675,000-square-foot sports arena and home to the Nets — opened on Friday, September 21, but only after a decade of debates by community activists who opposed the project and multiple lawsuits filed by landowners fighting to keep their properties.

Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of “Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn” (DDDB), a volunteer-run community coalition, said he fought against developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner, for seven years in federal and state court until eminent domain was used to condemn the entire 22-acre site, including 171 units of housing and 35 businesses, in 2009.

O’Finn, co-owner of Freddy’s Bar — which received a “Ratner payout” to vacate — recalled the seven years spent aggressively fighting legal battles as “sad,” in light of the arena’s grand ribbon-cutting last week.

“It seemed wrong the way things were happening, with the misuse of Eminent Domain, how things were sort of just taken by people who have power and wealth just because they want to,” he said. “It was just so wrong.”

Meanwhile, a similar battle has been brewing over in the next borough.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in June that he had selected the Wilpons of the Mets, Sterling Equities and Related Companies to develop 23 acres of land in Willets Point into a major hub for retail, hotels, entertainment and dining.

But before “environmental remediation” can begin, the entire area — home to scores of long-established auto repair shops near Citi Field — must first be vacated, according to Benjamin Branham, a spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

Twenty-seven property-owning entities in the “Phase 1” area have reached deals with the city for an undisclosed amount, while four have refused to sell, Branham said. They are Janice Serrone, Ralph Paterno, George Romano and Tony Crozzoli — none of whom returned calls for comment.

The city rescinded its first bid to acquire the “Phase 1” neighborhood using Eminent Domain in May. Branham said the city would only go back to using it “as a last resort.”

“It remains our strong preference to reach negotiated agreements with these remaining owners, and we’re optimistic that we can achieve this,” he said.

O’Finn, who urged remaining residents in Willets Point not to sell out, said the key to securing victory is to ignite the community.

“You need to get people to listen,” he said. “If you can find a way to get people to actually hear you — that would be my advice, especially in New York, where everything is so busy and fast. I really hope at some point we can win this war.”

Goldstein, however, said the land grab in Willets Point is only similar to what happened in Brooklyn in one way.

“They’re getting screwed just like we are,” he said.

Start-ups flock to Queens


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Tech start-up companies, escaping steep Manhattan rents and expanding Queens-born businesses, are setting up shop in Long Island City.

“It has a pioneering and innovative spirit,” said Coalition for Queens founder Jukay Hsu of the neighborhood’s energy.

The creator of the non-profit organization, responsible for fostering the tech community in the borough through raising awareness and collaborating with entrepreneurs, said the area’s appeal lies in what’s been here all along: educated personnel and skilled designers.

According to Hsu, the city suffers a shortage of computer scientists, now offset by Queens College, which trains more students in computer sciences than any other school in the metropolitan area. Hsu also said Long Island City’s reputation as a design center attracts tech companies searching for the vital aesthetic element.

A representative from LIC company Plaxall lists the average office space rent at between $15 and $25 per square-foot. According to a representative from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), current Manhattan rates for commercial spaces run around $59 per square-foot.

The Long Island City area is also regarded as a transportation hub, offering quick commutes to other business centers like Midtown Manhattan, Chelsea and the Financial District.

The Queens Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering hosted by the Coalition for Queens – brings together members from the technology community to collaborate in Long Island City.

While newer companies, such as Songza — an online music-listening service — are initiating and growing their businesses in Queens, major companies like Publicis, a worldwide public relations firm, are also migrating to Long Island City spaces.

“It’s about having existing companies grow and it’s about encouraging people to innovate,” said Hsu. “We want to help all these efforts and initiatives.”

Hsu claims the expansion of the technology sphere into Queens will affect not just the technology world, but industries including media and health care as well.

“We hope [the technology boom] can bring Queens and New York into the future,” he said.

Shapeways, a custom 3-D printing company based in Manhattan, is currently in the middle of lease negotiations, on its way to opening a factory in Long Island City. Director of marketing Carine Carmy said the massive space available and city-provided incentives drove Shapeways to move operations to Queens. The company’s distribution center is already located in Hunters Point and Carmy hopes the move will centralize business for its high concentration of east-coast based customers.

“We’ve been thinking about it,” said Carmy of the possibility of Shapeways’ 28th and Park headquarters migrating to LIC. “There are definitely benefits in having our offices more condensed.”

Elias Roman, Queens native and co-founder of Songza, said LIC has always been a top choice as the home base for his “music concierge” company, with proximity to Manhattan and community connectivity as just starting points.

“[Long Island City] has a great, fun start-upy vibe,” said Roman. “It’s exciting to see it grow while you’ve been growing … Theres no better place in the world to be than here.”