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Anti-Gentrification Group Files Another Legal Challenge to Block Target’s 82nd Street Plans

The plans for 40-31-82nd St. (Photo: Inline Realty)

Oct. 16, 2018 By Tara Law

An anti-gentrification activist group plans to appeal the Department of Building’s decision to permit a Target store to be included in a controversial Elmhurst development.

The appeal, which activist group Queens Neighborhoods United plans to submit to the Board of Standards and Appeals this Thursday, will contest the legality of the Target store that developers plan to place in the upcoming development at 40-31 82nd St.

The organization also plans to simultaneously lead a rally from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the BSA’s Manhattan office to support its legal challenge.

The planned appeal is the latest in a series of challenges Queens Neighborhoods United has raised against the big-box store and the property owners of the upcoming 82nd Street development.

It follows an appeal the group filed in August with the Department of Buildings to block the Target store, planned for the building’s ground floor, from coming to the area, arguing that it violates local zoning code that prohibits “big box department stores.”

While the agency soon issued a Stop Work Order  in response, the order was lifted weeks later after the developers, Heskel Group and Sun Equity Partners, submitted new designs for the project that called for the ground floor to be divided into several storefronts, with the Target occupying one of them and stretching into the cellar.

But the organization, which is being represented by the Community Development Project, rejects the DOB’s findings, and is therefore filing a subsequent appeal with the BSA.

The organization claims the agency is not addressing the underlying zoning issue—that it prohibits “big box stores” like Target from being built under zoning.

Their statement echoes the initial challenge submitted to the DOB, in which it argued that the zoning “is reserved for stores that serve local consumer needs’ and have a ‘small service area.’”

The Department of Buildings’ section of the NYC Charter, additionally, states that the department must “enforce, with respect to buildings and structures, such provisions of the building code, zoning resolution […] as may govern the […] use, occupancy, […] of buildings or structures in the city.”

Queens Neighborhoods United said that they would not be able to discuss the BSA appeal until after the rally.

The DOB, however, said that the basis for their decision to lift the order was the square footage of the planned storefronts, not the company renting the space.

The DOB found that all of the storefronts in the developers’ plan were less than 10,000 square feet, which meant that the building was in compliance with zoning code.

However, Andrew Rudansky, a DOB spokesperson, said a company could “hypothetically” operate two of the storefronts, and as long as they were not technically fused into one store— such as with a staircase— a single company could operate two stores in the same building.

“We never ask the developer, ‘How do you plan to rent it out?” Rudansky said, arguing that it would be illegal to block a particular company from occupying a storefront.

A Target spokesperson, however, previously told the Jackson Heights Post that the Target would only occupy one storefront.

The developers have declined repeated requests for comment on the project.

The 82nd Street development, originally planned to be a 13-story mixed-use building, was downsized after widespread community opposition to the project. The plan, which would have required a rezoning, was withdrawn, with the developers opting for a two-story building instead.

Queens Neighborhoods United, one of the groups most vocally opposed to the original 13-story project, also vowed to fight the Target that was still included in the downsized project, arguing that it will drive out small businesses and exacerbate traffic on local streets.

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36 Comments

LC

Why won’t they build the target on 54th street and Northern Blvd where Sports Authority used to be?!

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JHN

Watch the video of QNU https://youtu.be/z-e7_bqf3TU where one of its members explains that they are a coalition of small business owners and property owners. So that’s who they are and their motive is protecting their business, not the betterment of JH or Elmhurst. Watch it before they take it down.

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JH resident

I don’t understand all the anti-improvement, anti-gentrification hate in these comments…those posters are claiming we should all support the small business owners here.

I hope a lot of you realize that Jackson Heights is a predominantly Latino neighborhood that isn’t very accepting or tolerant of non-Latino/non-Spanish speaking residents. It’s uncomfortable to go into most of the restaurants in the neighborhood if you don’t speak Spanish. Even the McDonald’s on 82nd streets calls out order numbers in Spanish before English.

All of you crying “racism” because Target sees a market for their business should take a look in the mirror…you’re the real racists for wanting to squash anything that isn’t inherently pro-Latino. Shame on all of you for wanting to keep the neighborhood on the dumpy side of the spectrum.

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june

My concern is the traffic. The bus terminal is across the street and there is so MUCH traffic now. It will be a nightmare once these stores open. Besides the fact the hospital is isn’t too far away.

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Santi

Interesting comment; however, while the majority of the area is predominately Latino, the businesses surrounding this area are predominately Asian. Many of the protestors have been Asian (observing from Sunday walks across the zone). It’s a case of protecting individual interests in my opinion, as I view the this devolpment as an overall improvement to the area

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JH resident

Oh the irony. The very people who are gentrifying Jackson Heights are ones clamoring against gentrification. I’m Latina and have been a resident for over 20 years. Jackson Heights used to have beautiful stores long ago and it was still a diverse neighborhood.

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Henry

“White trash”? Have you ever shopped in a Target store? The customers that I have seen shopping in Rego Park Target is as diverse as the Jackson Heights community. If shopping at Target is beneath your standards, shop on Roosevelt Ave or 82nd Street. Its as simple as that.

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carlos

Queens Neighborhoods United is highjacking our neighborhood. Ive said it before, they must own and operate all the brothels and illegal businesses on roosevelt ave. They want to protect them so they can line their pockets. I wonder what other illegal activities they participate in. Maybe they extort the local businesses for protection. Check out their facebook page, our community is Pro-Target. We want real stores with return policies and fair prices. We also need more medical

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Juan Verdad

Queens Neighborhoods Unites should be considered a terrorist organization. Terrorizing and scaring the community with the fake boogey man of gentrification. They were opposed to the expansion of the BID, they won but the community lost. They were opposed to the opening of Banana Republic, GAP, and Old Navy, and guess what? We always see these stores full of people (from the community) buying, benefiting from their products, prices, and discounts; the same will happen when Target opens. If the community did not want these stores, they would simply not buy from them and these stores would go out of business. The people from QNU are simply protecting their families businesses (one member said her family owns five business along Roosevelt Ave), and they don’t want any competition, and want to continue profiting from the community by charging higher prices.

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JHN

Hear, hear! I agree! And it’s upsetting to see the article mention the “outcry of the ‘community’”. The real residents of JH and Elmhurst welcome the new development and Target. I suspect that those who march and protest are not even actual residents of JH or Elmhurst but are residents of other Queens neighborhoods. We should hear the voice of actual residents.

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.

Does anyone here know what gentrification means??????? You’re all the reason why there’s an ANTI GENTRIFICATION group. Bc of people like you in the comments who want only white businesses to take over. The majority of the businesses on Roosevelt Ave are minority owned. Bringing a target into the neighborhood only gentrifies the neighborhood & brings out more white people making the neighborhood raise their rent prices which makes all ppl of low income (which is all of jackson heights) move or become homeless. Its the unfortunate cycle of gentrification. All of you people should stop complaining & embrace the culture & diversity Jackson Heights offers. Get to know your business owned neighbors. Im sure if y’all got a reality check of how gentrification will impact their life/income then you would probably be more sympathetic towards the neighborhood. There is other ways to resolve whatever little things y’all dont like. Also theres a target a bus (q29) away! Literally a 10 min ride! Or get some excercise & walk the 30 min walk to target.

Stop spreading hate towards people who make a living selling “cheap quality” clothes.

People like you all in these comments are the reason for gentrification.

Stop complaining & LOVE your life!

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Howard

“More white people”? Does it get more racist than this? Some how you seem to know the ancestry of all the folks responding to this story. As to The people who own businesses in the neighborhood, please who are the people in the neighborhood who own the businesses? I don’t see neighborhood residents supervising the clothes racks on 82nd Street. Why would you promote the selling of manufactured goods coming from poverty countries where the employees are working for wages so low that they are just above the category of slaves? You educate yourself and know what is being sold in this neighborhood. Gentrification in your mind means “white ppl”. How sure are you of that?

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Fed Up.

Actually, do YOU know what gentrification means? I have got news for you…with home prices in this neighborhood averaging in the $500K+ range, established businesses, and a variety of services and specialty stores already here, this is not a “run down” community blighted by the arrival of a Target. We’re already here.

Additionally, gentrification is not exclusively a “white” thing, it’s actually an income/affluence thing non-exclusive to any race, but you (as well as this organization) has made it all about battling what you deem to be “white” culture, whatever that means. Ironically, this organization has made this debate incredibly race-driven and contrary to all who are celebrating progress.

My message to QNU – STOP. Just stop. The community wants the Target and we want to see some change. I really think QNU’s energy would be much better spent fighting against things like human trafficking, improving community services, and all of the things that actually deeply affect JH. My advice to them is also to stop posting incredibly offensive, racially-motivated posts on their social media. Because of that alone, I could NEVER support or respect what they do.

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Pancho Villa

Stop the racist anti white hate…This is not about gentrification, this is about improving our communities and bringing stores and merchants that people want, for the benefit of the people. You seem to think that only white people are entitled to a beautiful and clean neighborhood, but guess what? MINORITIES also deserve to live in a clean and beautiful neighborhood, but the your friends at QNU want to keep it looking like a third world hellhole…and by the why the headline of this article should be: “Anti Development, Anti Progress, Anti Prosperity, Anti Jobs Group keeps putting more obstacles to job creators”

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JHN

“White people” as you say are not the only ones who ate high income earners or become wealthy. By what you’re saying there are no Latino residents or from other backgrounds who will ever be rich and live a higher standard neighborhood. Stop making it a race issue, it’s not.

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Rich

Target is FOR the average person! Stop being idiots and fighting change. It’s not like they’re putting a Hugo Boss store on 82nd. Seriously, why don’t they fight the constant barrage of garbage and drunk losers sleeping in the Freedom Plaza and in the station at 74th??? All of 74th and 73rd looks disgusting because people leave their soiled plates, cups, napkins, and cigarette butts all over the place. I get embarrassed when my relatives visit.

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Eleanor Batchelder

I can appreciate that people would like a cleaner and more varied neighborhood, but a mass-market corporate department store is not the only possible use for this piece of land. Imagine a community-use building, with day care, teen clubs, space for churches that don’t have buildings, community meetings, etc.! Wouldn’t that be better than more stores? And as to jobs, the small stores in Jackson Heights help a lot of people make a living, and with more control over their lives than is possible when working low-paid jobs for businesses like Target that have no roots in the community.

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Jairo Cueva

If you want a community -use building with day care, teen clubs etc. then buy the lot and build it yourself. You CANNOT impose your vision on other people’s property. As for jobs, those small stores you defend, only create low-paying jobs with no benefits, no health insurance, no retirement plans, no pension plans, no tuition reimbursement. Stores like Target provide better paying jobs with much better benefits, and besides that they provide good quality products at great prices. That is what the community wants and deserves.

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Maria

Stop complaining we need more places to work and target it’s one of them for people who needs a job .

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Henry

Who are the members of the “activist group Queens Neighborhoods United?” Why are they never heard of except when progress for the neighborhood is being proposed. When I first lived in JH you could actually shop for real clothes (quality and style) on 82nd St. Now the is is mostly crap stores selling clothes overseas by people who are nealy slave laborers.
I agree with the comment about food vendors. Roosevelt Ave. looks like garbage alley at the end of the day.

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JHN

This video explains who they are (it’s in Spanish) https://youtu.be/z-e7_bqf3TU. It explains that QNU is a coalition made up of small business owners and property owners. So that explains their motive behind trying to keepJH and Elmhurst down.

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Esther Stone

Yes, please make them stop. When they going to get the message that most people would prefer a Target to an empty lot!

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Ron Woods

Who is “Queens Neighborhoods United”? How come they object to perhaps improving a neighborhood that looks like a blighted mess?

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Enrico Ocasio

They are a group of radical socialist punks that are against all forms of development. They like run down buildings, graffitis, garbage, prostitution, gangs, drugs, etc. and want to keep the neighborhood looking like a third world hellhole.

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Carol

Enough of this already. Why dont people protest with all the food vendors on each corner. Now that’s something people should be concerned about. Roosevelt Avenue is a DISGRACE

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Stephanie

We need a target in jackson heights. The whole 37ave and 82nd street should be filled with REAL stores. Not those crappy stores that make jackson heights dirty

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Anonymous

Seriously leave them alone to make it already. We need real department stores in jackson heights!!

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Rico Suave

Is there any way we can take legal actions against these radical punks for obstructing development in our communities?

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Sean

They should give it up already. Otherwise you’ll have an empty parcel sitting there for years. Roosevelt Ave around 82nd Street is a pure dump, maybe Target will force the area to clean itself up. The fact that a clothing store can take up almost all of the sidewalk on 82nd Street is amazing. The racks really impede traffic flow in and out of the 7 train station.

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Henry

File a complaint with the Sanitation Department via 311. It is impossible to go down 82nd Street with clothing racks on the sidewalks. Especially during rush hours.

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Rosa

People have no work or jobs? Keep protesting something that doesnt belong to them or they will be out next year to different neighborhood

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