Sept. 5, 2018 By Christian Murray
The developers of the controversial 82nd Street development have been told by the city that big-box stores like Target can not operate on the site.
The Department of Buildings issued a stop work order against developers Sun Equity Partners and Heskel Group on the grounds that the 40-31 82nd Street building–designed for Target–does not conform to zoning code.
The latest plan for the site—after the developers pulled their rezoning application for a 13-story building last month—was for a two-story structure to be built with the retail giant in mind. The developers filed plans for the two-story structure last year as a backup in the event that the rezoning application fell through.
The stop work order, issued after the permit was challenged by Queens Neighborhood United, stems from Target not conforming to the commercial “use group” code zoned for the site.
The site, currently zoned as R6/C1-3, is only supposed to be for commercial buildings (excluding hotels) that provide “local consumer needs,” such as laundromats and small foods stores. The developer filed plans with Target in mind, evidenced by the lease it signed with the corporation in 2017.
The zoning text pertaining to the site only permits six use groups. Groups one through four are for residential use; group five is for transient hotels; and six is for local consumer needs.
Target, a regional store, falls outside the use groups, according to the DOB.
The stop work order was issued on Aug. 29 based on it not meeting the intended use group.
“If the developer wishes to proceed with the project, they will need to revise their plans to satisfy the objections noted in the accepted challenge, and return to the Department of Buildings with the revised plans,” according to a DOB spokesperson. “The other option is to seek a zoning variance with the Board of Standard & Appeals.”
The revocation of the plan stems from a challenge to the building permit—initially approved by the DOB on May 31. The DOB approved the plan for the two-story building, which called for retail in the cellar and ground floor, and medical offices on the second floor. The plan also included space for 124 parking spaces.
The DOB allows the public to challenge building permits within 45 days of their issuance.
“The Zoning Resolution is clear that only retail that meets neighborhood needs—small stores where residents can buy essentials—is allowed on this lot in Elmhurst. Residents simply asked the DOB to do its job—and it did,” said Paula Segal, attorney for Queens Neighborhood United.
The Queens Neighborhood United organization has been fighting against the development for over a year—which resulted last month in the developers formally withdrawing their application to rezone the property that would have permitted the 13-story building—including 120 apartments and Target.
“This is a case where it is very, very clear that the developers are not listening to the community,” said Allison Park, a lifelong resident of Jackson Heights. “There is not a single community member who I’ve spoken with or worked with who expressed the desire to have a megastore, like Target, here.”
The developers could not be reached for comment. Target had no immediate comment.