May 21, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
The future of the controversial 82nd Street Target proposal will be decided on June 4, according to the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals.
BSA Chair Margery Perlmutter made the announcement at the end of a four-hour hearing Tuesday, after a heated debate as to whether Target’s plan to occupy a 23,000 square foot space within a proposed two-story development complied with zoning code.
Perlmutter said that the BSA will review the arguments presented by all parties and will render a decision at a final hearing in two weeks.
The development, which is planned to go up at 40-31 82 St., is in an area populated by ma and pa stores. The site is currently zoned R6/C1-3, which requires stores to “serve local consumer needs” and prohibits them from exceeding 10,000 square feet in size.
The planned Target would occupy more than 23,000 square feet, although more than half the store would be in an underground cellar.
The developers, Sun Equity Partners and Heskel Group, argue that Target meets zoning code because the square footage in the cellar does not count toward the total square footage of the store. Therefore, they argue, it does not exceed 10,000 square feet, with which the BSA seemed to agree.
Perlmutter, according to a live twitter feed of the hearing, referred to a New York Supreme Court ruling where cellar space was deemed not to count toward the total floor area of a building. Under this ruling, which the BSA said it would abide by, the BSA indicated that the Target store would meet this requirement.
Community members in opposition to the plan also argue that Target is a “big box department store” and that the BSA should therefore block it from opening on these grounds alone. They also note that the developers are using a loophole to get around the 10,000 square feet requirement.
A representative of Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez read a letter condemning the developers’ zoning argument.
“I am submitting a letter in support of community demands to stop Target and potential negative effects… this development goes against the spirit and intent of the zoning regulation,” a representative from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office said.
Queens Neighborhood United, a grass-roots group that has been leading the charge to prevent the development, argues that the Target store would contribute to the displacement of residents and small businesses in the Elmhurst and Jackson Heights area.
The group took legal action last year after the Department of Buildings announced the building and Target conformed with zoning. The group took the issue up with the BSA.
Co Founder of QNU, Tania Mattos, who spoke at the hearing, said that most small businesses, local politicians, and community members have stood with QNU in opposition of the development.
“What we’re doing here is important,” tweeted QNU during Tuesday’s hearing. “If all developers and city agencies received pressure from our communities…NYC wouldn’t be a developers playground. Communities of color wouldn’t get so shamelessly displaced.”