Oct. 8, 2019 By Christian Murray (Updated Oct. 9)
Community activists and elected officials have filed a lawsuit against Target and a pair of developers to block the retail giant from opening on 82nd Street.
The lawsuit filed by Queens Neighborhood United Sept. 30 in state supreme court looks to overturn a decision made by the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals in June that gave the developers the green-light to proceed with the project.
A two-story commercial building is currently going up on the 40-31 82 St. site that will contain a small-format Target when it is complete.
The lawsuit, which names Target, the BSA and developers Sun Equity Partners and Heskel Group, is just the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between activists, Target and the real estate companies.
The developers originally sought to build a 13-story, luxury residential building with a shopping mall on the lower floors, but withdrew their plans after fierce opposition. Instead, the developers filed plans for the two-story building, to be called The Shoppes.
The development is currently going up on a site zoned R6/C1-3, which permits retail stores that “serve local consumer needs” and prohibits them from exceeding 10,000 square feet in size. The planned Target will occupy more than 23,000 square feet, although more than half the store will be in an underground cellar.
Opponents argue that the store is too big and fails to meet the definition of a local need. They argue that it exceeds the 10,000 square feet and is a “regional destination” that could potentially put mom and pop stores out of business.
The BSA rejected that argument, however, in its decision June 4. The BSA cited a New York Supreme Court ruling where cellar space was deemed not to count toward the total floor area of a building/store. Therefore, Target was in compliance.
But opponents disagreed with the decision, prompting them to file a lawsuit.
“We’re asking the high court to step in and enforce the law before it’s too late,” said Paula Segal, an attorney with TakeRoot Justice who represents QNU in a statement. QNU is joined in the lawsuit by Council Member Francisco Moya and State Sen. Jessica Ramos, among others.
Moya, in a statement today, also challenged the decision.
“When a zoning regulation clearly states that stores are ‘limited to 10,000 square feet of floor area per establishment,’ that’s exactly what it means,” Moya said. “It does not mean a store can completely disregard that limit if it hides part of the establishment in the cellar. This store does not conform to the spirit of this regulation and I remain opposed to letting it flout the zoning rules.”
The activists also argue that a Target store will put pressure on neighborhood infrastructure.
“I am worried that the store will bring lots more people into our already crowded neighborhood,” said Tania Mattos Jose, a resident and QNU leader in a statement today. “It is going to make it harder to park, to walk on the street and to take the train here.”
However, Target has no plans to go elsewhere.
“We continue to be excited about the opportunity to better serve our Queens guests with a new small-format store later this year,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement when asked about the lawsuit.
The developers and the BSA could not be reached for comment.