For some residents of Long Island City, the influx of shiny new towers makes the area look more like Miami than NYC. The Queens neighborhood has been a manufacturing hub and a blue-collar world for decades, but recent development has brought in condos and what the owner of Court Square Diner calls “yuppies.” Now city planners are looking to rezone LIC in order to encourage construction for more affordable housing.
Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the local Community Board 2, tells the Wall Street Journal:
At the beginning people really wanted to see development, but that’s going back 25 or 30 years. But now that development is exploding that’s a different story. I think we really need to step back.
According to the Long Island City Partnership, more than 8,000 units have been built over the last 8 years, and almost 20,000 are under construction. That means more residents, which has in turn brought in more businesses. Since 1998, LIC has added 313 more businesses but some are worried about a lack of variety in what is being built.
Adam Friedman, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Development says, “There’s been so much talk about housing and so much talk about upzoning….They’ve sent one signal to the market and they need to send a more balanced signal.”
City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer is also concerned about developers being single-minded with their plans but he’s optimistic about the rezoning if it’s done correctly. According to the Journal:
Mr. Van Bramer said he also wanted to ensure that development is accompanied by improvements to schools, transportation, space for technology companies and affordable housing for artists.
“I’m very much open to this idea as long as it includes those things that I already outlined and is done in a smart way that speaks to the needs of community and takes into account the additional folks who will then be in the neighborhood,” he said.
With observers calling Long Island City the new Williamsburg, the Queens neighborhood could definitely benefit from trying to avoid the endless condo/restaurant/retail loop that has made that Brooklyn staple so infamous.