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Amazon HQ2 may bypass City Council to settle in Long Island City

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo may opt for a general project plan to avoid the city’s traditional review process

Max Touhey

Earlier this week it was reported that Amazon’s rumored Long Island City HQ2 could be located within the proposed Anable Basin megaproject, and Crain’s has now learned that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be planning to circumvent City Council to make it happen.

Per Crain’s, “sources familiar with the negotiations” say that the Cuomo administration is planning to create a general project plan (the same sort of plan that allowed for projects like Pacific Park and Barclay’s Center) to rezone a nearly 20-acre site near Anable Basin that is currently only zoned for low-rise manufacturing buildings. Doing so would allow him to bypass the city’s normal review process and would essentially cut Councilmember Jimmy van Bramer, who represents Long Island City and neighboring communities, out of the process. A general project plan would still require an environmental review, welcome community input via a public forum, and be subject to nonbinding input from the local community board and the City Planning Commission.

Sources also revealed to Crain’s that Amazon is focused on a site owned by plastics company Plaxall Inc., as well as on two adjacent sites that are owned by the city, which was slated to give rise to the LIC Innovation Center.

“I’m not just surprised, I’m angry,” said Van Bramer in a statement to Crain’s. “I think it would be shocking if this was done in a way that bypassed the city land-use review process. This is the most top-down approach to a project I have seen so far, with no community involvement. This is the governor and the mayor and Jeff Bezos sitting in a room together.”

If Cuomo does proceed with a general project plan, the sites could be zoned to allow for millions of square footage for office and mixed-use, more so than would probably be allowed by City Council.