Critics of the city's plan to build a school, offices and 1,000 apartments on the Long Island City waterfront called it "irresponsible" to develop the site because it's located in a hurricane evacuation zone that's prone to flooding during storms.
Advocates said they would rather see the two city-owned parcels — located next to the East River at the end of 44th Drive — converted to public parkland, with plantings, oyster beds and other green infrastructure to help make the area more resistant to floods.
"We think continuing to build in a flood plain is irresponsible," said Diane Hendry, a member of the LIC Coalition, an advocacy group that launched a petition last week opposing the city's plans. "The land is a natural wetlands. It should be preserved. We do not want this land used for 1,000 luxury units."
The city's Economic Development Corporation and developer TF Cornerstone are planning the mixed-use project, which will include a 600-seat school, offices and light manufacturing space, as well as at least 1,000 apartments, a quarter of which will be set aside for affordable housing.
The development will rise on two sites across the street from one another: 5-40 44th Drive, currently a Department of Transportation facility, and 4-99 44th Drive, which includes a Department of Education parking lot and the shuttered Water's Edge restaurant.
The site is located within Hurricane Evacuation Zone 1, what the city has designated as the most likely to flood during a storm. The parcels also sit on the border between two FEMA flood zones with the highest risk of flooding, according to a map from the agency.