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Anti-Gentrification Group Continues Fight Against Target, Takes Company and DOB to Court

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

Jan. 3, 2019  By Meghan Sackman

Queens Neighborhoods United (QNU), the local anti-gentrification group, is continuing its battle to block Target from opening a store on 82nd Street, with a lawsuit it filed last month against the corporate giant and the Department of Buildings set to be heard next week.

The organization, which has been fighting against the rezoning and development of the property at 40-31 82nd Street since early 2017, will present its case before the New York Supreme Court on Jan. 10. It aims to prove that the big-box store does not conform to zoning code and that construction needs to stop.

The hearing, which will follow a rally planned at Dunningham Triangle on Jan. 6 against the proposed store, is the latest in QNU’s fight against Target, which it claims will put smaller immigrant-owned shops out of business and change the face of the neighborhood, among other concerns.

The site’s developers, the Heskel Group and Sun Equity Partners, shelved their plans for a 13-story building at the location in July after much community opposition, with QNU being their most outspoken critic.

The developers instead decided to pursue their back up project for the site–a two-story building, with a Target originally set to occupy the entirety of the ground floor. The Department of Buildings signed off on the plan in July.

But QNU challenged the DOB’s decision to approve the plan, arguing that the design and inclusion of the big-box store did not conform to zoning code, which the group says prohibits such stores.

The proposed Target site is located in a commercial district that is reserved for stores that meet “local consumer needs,” with these establishments limited to 10,000 square feet.

QNU achieved a temporary victory in August, when the DOB, In response to the challenge, agreed and issued a stop work order.

The stop work order, however, was lifted by the DOB in October when the agency approved the development team’s revised plan that called for the ground floor to be split into five storefronts, with Target to be in one of the store fronts and split between the cellar and ground floor.

QNU, which disagreed with the DOB’s findings, appealed the decision and filed a notice of objection with the Board of Standards and Appeals in October. But the case, given the agency’s backlog, is still pending and set to be heard in March, the group said.

In the meantime, construction on the site continues, with a deep hole having already been dug.

With time being of essence, QNU decided to take its fight to the New York Supreme Court, submitting a petition in late November against the DOB’s decision and calling for construction to stop and the building permits be rescinded. The petition is against the DOB, Target and the developers.

The move, according to Carina Kausman-Gutierrez, a QNU organizer, aims to slow down construction before a final decision is rendered. The more the developers actually build, the more likely they will win, due to the large investment that has already been made, she said.

“Our point of doing this is to support the immigrant run businesses that made this neighborhood what it is,” Kaufman-Gutierrez said.

The Jan. 6 protest in Jackson Heights leading up to the court date will also be attended by local officials, such as State Senator-elect Jessica Ramos.

Neither Heskel Group nor Sun Equity Partners were able to be reached for comment within press time.

The rally, titled “People’s Court Speak Out,” will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 6 at Dunningham Triangle, located at 82nd Street and Baxter Avenue. The New York Supreme Court case will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 10 at 60 Center St.

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25 Comments

TONY

YES TO TARGET TIME TO CLEAN UP JACKSON HTS , GET RID OF ALL THOSE BARS THAT WOMAN GET PAID $3.00 TO DANCE

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Jackson Heights

Yes to a Target opening on 82nd St.
Yes to jobs and yes to cleaning up that street.

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Erick H.

As someone who was born and raised in the Jackson Heights neighborhood, Target does not belong here. This neighborhood belongs to the immigrant people, those who have fought hard to make a good living through businesses, even when it’s not easy, in this land. Most people who want the Target don’t understand the struggle the immigrant people face in America and don’t see the long-term affect of this. Those who’ve come to this country in the pursuit of a better life are faced with so many setbacks. When arriving to this country, most immigrant people don’t know how to speak English and don’t have the required formal education or training for most job criteria. To survive and make it, they resort in using their intuition to start their own business to either support themselves or their families. If Target was to invade this neighborhood, so many immigrant people will be prevented from developing their businesses here, thus making them either scrap to find employment elsewhere or move out of the neighborhood to find another neighborhood less tampered by the more privileged (which is what gentrification essentially is). The real estate value of the neighborhood may go up, which only encourages landlords to kick renting low income people out of their homes so that higher income people can come in. Unless you were raised in Jackson Heights with little to no opportunity as opposed to privileged people in America, you have no say in this matter. You’re looking from a more materialistic-oriented perspective instead of a humanitarian one. If Target was to be built, those more privileged wins while those with more social setbacks lose.

Thank you QNU for all your efforts in this matter, and keep it up!

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Anon

QNU do not represent the views of the neighborhood – sure it’s one view but there are many others. If people don’t want Target then they won’t shop there. It’s not for QNU to decide. That area is run down and dangerous at night and we should be happy that there’s going to be some investment.

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JHN

I know many who also were born and raised in JH, with immigrant parents. Some with single parent homes and not “privileged”, myself included. We remember when JH had more of a family and community presence. Not all was ideal but the area is getting worse over the past 15-20 years, with increasing vagrants, prostitution and drugs running their businesses in our neighborhood. Those of us who care about JH and our families want a better environment, better choices. Not holding on to bad customs that allow all the filth and crime to flourish. If the current businesses cared about the area they serve they would allow for improvements such as the Target. Competition is healthy in the free market. And gentrification is not a 4 letter word.

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JHeights my whole life

82nd st getting worse over the past 15 20 years? I have to disagree. Remember in the late 80’s to mid 90’s when there was a whorehouse on every block on Roosevelt and cars were getting stolen all over town. Or in 1990 when the Colombian soccer team made the playoffs and that kid was shot in the knee while celebrating on 82nd between Roosevelt and Dunningham triangle (which was an open drug market where addicts got high openly all day)? Or in 1997 when you could go to 88th st and Roosevelt to buy weed and cocaine from a teenager? Or remember the late 90’s when those 3 ladies sold basuko (freebase smokable cocaine) from 8pm to 7am every day of the year on 82 and Roosevelt right under the train station stairs while police cars drove by. Remember when the street walkers were selling there bodies in people’s backyards and driveways all over Roosevelt Avenue and surrounding areas. When yellow cabs would not pick people up in Jackson Heights? 82nd has gotten way better than it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. Crime is down in Jackson Hts. and all over NYC. 2018 was one of the safest years in NYC history. So how can we say crime is worse than it was 20 years ago?

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L

During the Great Depression, this area belonged to gay actors and the occasional poor Manhattan expat. So based on your logic, JH ‘belongs’ to the gays from the Theater District. Guess I have to move…you probably do, too.

Your anti-humanitarian argument is a flame-job and complete BS. Other opinions exist, whether you like it or not! Just because you preemptively disagree doesn’t mean they aren’t valid.

Things change. Neighborhoods change. And the problems of the freakish income disparity in NYC, Queens included, won’t be halted as long as these investments continue – which they will.

Not saying I agree or disagree. It is what it is in this city.

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JHSbornraised

Been a Jackson Heights native for over 30 years… we NEED a Target! To all JH residents, I know you all travel to Flushing and Elmhurst to get your Target fix. Think about how convenient it would be to have one in the neighborhood. Stop fighting a good thing!

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JHN

The JH residents who have lived there all their life and the immigrants who have been living there over 40 years do want the Target in the neighborhood. It’s the people affiliated with QNU that spin a different story.

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Ron W

If I were the developer, I would tell Jackson Heights and especially the QNU, whoever they are,
that Target belongs in an appreciative neighborhood.
And I don’t remember these precious immigrant businesses in Jackson Heights 20 years ago when the neighborhood was doing just fine.

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JHeights my whole life

You dont remember immigrat businesses 20 years ago?? Really ?? Click electronic store was on 82nd st in the 1980’s playing loud music. And I can name more than one immigrant owned business from way over 20 years ago. Flagship video and Numbers and Records on 78th and 37. George’s diner on 81st. Ultimate look on 79 and 37th. Mi tierra restaurant on 81 and Roosevelt, Inti Raymi restaurant on 87 and 37. Woks chinese food on 81 and 37. Isabel’s Salon and K and L deli on 76 and 37. Most of the barbershops, nail salons, restaurants, bakeries, car repair, car services, delis, and grocery stores around Jackson Hts were immigrant owned in 1999 probably there was more back then than now. So Ron W when you say you don’t remember these precious immigrant businesses 20 years ago you just weren’t paying attention. All the places I mentioned were in operation 20 or more years ago. And I could keep going.

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JH resident

Normal people want to see their neighborhoods improve, not stay down in the gutter…shame on QNU.

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Uncle Fester

Now if only someone would take up the task of bulldozing both sides of Roosevelt Avenue and redeveloping those eyesore “immigrant-owned” shops with their boom-box loudspeakers, strobe lights, and illegal sidewalk displays!

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Bye

Well you can thank QNU for stopping an expansion of the BID on Roosevelt. They treat it like a victory for the ages, but the people who really lose out is us (oh and of course the handful of people who have died on the block this year since it continues to be a seedy, crime-filled, filthy mess). Thanks QNU for really “looking out” for the community, aka their own stores (referenced in the document above).

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Marie omalley

I look forward to target, we need better stores, im sick and tired of all the junk stores in the neighborhood maybe this will improve, police will clean all the old drug dealers, and the prostitution. Thankyou .

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JHeights my whole life

Police will clean old drug dealers and the prostitution? So cops are giving people baths now? How is a store going to stop crime? There is now a GAP, Bananna Republic, and a Children’s Place on 82nd st. Did it stop crime? Did it make the police pay more attention to the 82nd St and Roosevelt Ave area?

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Olivesta

These objections seem spurious and I really Hope common sense prevails. QNU Do not reporesrnt the views of the neighborhood. 82nd street already has several major chains which are all widely used by the local community and make for a bustling shopping scene which I hope continues to grow and thrive.

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Anonymous

These people are so annoying! Dont you want jackson heights to get better with better stores in the neighborhood?

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Tia Keenan

We stand with Queens Neighborhoods United and the people of Jackson Heights. Power to the People! We will fight the theft of our neighborhoods.

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JHeights my whole life

Thank you QNU for fighting the good fight. A Target store belongs at a shopping mall not on 82nd street where most of the stores are small and the traffic is already a problem and the 7 train thay takes you there is overcrowded and delayed.

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