Residents, community leaders and elected officials have long called for more housing—especially affordable housing—in Queens and we agree that there need to be more places for people to live in the borough and city, considering the rate of growth.
However, new development should not come at the expense of preserving neighborhood character or institutions—and two recent instances provide examples of proposed development’s encroaching on communities.
At a recent Community Board 2 meeting, residents spoke out against a proposal supported by the city’s Economic Development Corp to develop a site near 44th Drive and 5th Street that would include 1,000 apartments, commercial space and a school. Residents have complained that the area is already overpopulated with high-rise buildings, but lacks open space—such as a park.
And in Briarwood, long-time patrons of the Flagship Diner turned out on Tuesday to show support for the diner’s owners, who say that the landlord—White Rock Management—is hoping to push them out to make way for a seven-story, mixed-use building. At the rally, elected officials noted that the diner was considered by many local residents to be a “cultural institution,” and patrons said that they had been coming to the eatery for years, due to the family atmosphere created by the staff.
In the case of both stories, the developers may have the right to develop the proposed properties, but that doesn’t mean they should move forward with them. For the EDC project, the city should take the input of the surrounding community and work to incorporate green space into the proposal. While affordable housing is desperately needed in many Queens communities, parks and open space are also important.
As for the Flagship Diner, the owners are calling on White Rock Management to respect the two years left on the restaurant’s lease. We agree with the Flagship’s owners and the 2,400 customers who have signed a petition to support the restaurant. As a developer, if you want to gain the trust of a community, listen to what its residents have to say.