On the one hand, Queens residents are already bring priced out of the most culturally diverse community on Earth. They’re tired of luxury buildings and “affordable housing” that is anything but affordable. On the other hand, both the city and Real Estate Developers have an impetus to build and grow, pressuring elected officials to let them do so. Is there a way to serve both masters?
Yes, if you do it correctly. Before any LIC waterfront development proceeds, we, the people of Queens, have the following prerequisites:
- Public Land Must Remain Public. With the new waterfront proposal, the EDC continues its habit of offering private developers our public land, and we must continue to reject it. Instead, we propose that the Department of Education building be given to the Western Queens Community Land Trust, a non-profit run by the community itself, who has plans to turn the building into a deeply-affordable manufacturing space that would encourage local, immigrant-owned businesses, a rooftop farm, artist studios, a new school, and much more.
- A Seat at the Table. If developers want community input, as they claim, Queens residents need to be present at the currently-closed negotiations. This includes democratically-chosen residents from Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing community in the country, and just blocks away from all this development. They will be impacted the most, as will residents from Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, and so on down the 7 Train Line. As research shows, when gentrification happens in one neighborhood, the surrounding neighborhoods pay the price.
- Contracts, Not Promises. Both our city (via the EDC) and developers have lied to its residents with non-binding Memos of Understanding and Feasibility Studies they completely ignore. Anyone wanting to build in Queens must sign legally-binding contracts that set hard limits on rent, take into account infrastructure impact, and uses environmentally-sustainable designs and implementations.