David Eisenbach is no different from any other sellout politician.

Earlier today Queens Anti-Gentrification Project posted on Facebook questioning why David Eisenbach thinks he deserves the title of “public advocate”. In it we speak to his narrow and inadequate vision for NYC residents, and question his alleged independence from the current political establishment. You can check out the post and video here. We’ve seen this individual appearing at events over the past year and promoting himself, and want to let people know – this caricature of a politician has been seen before, and we know how the story goes.


To quote our post: “Every election season a fresh round of politicians appear, saying they’ll “take on city hall”, showing up at activist rallies, and making promises they don’t plan on keeping. Every election season a portion of grassroots groups, non profits, and well intentioned individuals give their support to these candidates hoping that they’ll follow through and fight for them once in office. Then, after the votes are cast, and the politicians settle into their new role, the patronage requests start coming in, and the higher-ups who helped get them there in the first place start calling in their debts, a new reality sets in. This is unfortunately how it usually works. In the case of David Eisenbach, however, all signs point to him having already completely sold out, without even being on a ballot. Queens Anti-Gentrification Project wants SBJSA to pass, but Eisenbach will not be its champion – not when he is aligned with Corey Johnson and other special interests. More importantly, however, what the people really need goes far beyond the narrow vision Eisenbach has opportunistically presented: we want reparations for NYCHA residents who have been dealing with health issues due to lead, mold and other environmental issues, an end to Bill de Blasio’s “affordable housing” rezoning program (MIH/ZQA), and an end to NYPD and ICE’s harassment and violence against Black and Brown residents in NYC. On these questions, Eisenbach is either completely silent or woefully inadequate and, therefore, does not deserve the title of “public advocate”.

Listen to Eisenbach in his own words, saying that campaign slogans are just meant for the campaign trail and not really what happens once they get in office. Is this really a guy we can trust?”

David Eisenbach
David Eisenbach on Fox News saying what politicians say on the campaign trail is not what they do when they get in office.
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Queens Under Attack

Sunday, August 26th, Queens Anti-Gentrification Project will be hosting an event titled Defend Queens – Now or Never.

The event will include a discussion and update on the multiple mega-developments threatening Western Queens and the rest of the borough. These developments include the LIC Core Rezoning (currently on hold), the LIC Tech Hub, LIC BID, Sunnyside Yard Development, and the BQX.

In a predictable development, a recent article quoted Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, stating her support for the LIC Tech Hub.

Last month, we saw a sign of how bad things are getting when a top politician called for a freeze on new building permits in LIC and, in the same article, confirmed that the LIC Core Rezoning was on hold. These half-measures by politicians, though, are not enough – we need to build power through independent neighborhood-based organizations.

In the wake of the Inwood Rezoning, its clear that the city is never going to listen to the concerns of community members. That’s why we hope to see you this Sunday so we can continue to develop strategy for defeating  these developers and their sell-out politicians.

Defend Queens – Now or Never!

Join Us for Our Summer Party – Sunday August 12th

 

To all of our neighbors – We would like to invite you to join us for a summer Anti-Gentrification party! Let’s grab some drinks and/or food (non-drinkers are welcome!) and talk with neighbors about defending Queens and NYC from luxury real estate and corporate development!

QAGP is not a representative type of organization, or a funded nonprofit. Rather, we are a group of neighbors, fighting for ourselves and for each other, on our own time. We strongly encourage you to attend, chill, and consider joining us. If not, your general support is welcome!

We look forward to seeing y’all.

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/2087522601488224/
WHEN: 4pm-8pm | Sunday, August 12th
WHERE: Copper Kettle | 50-24 Skillman Ave (BACKYARD)

Announcing the First 7 Train Coalition CB2 Neighborhood Committee Public Meeting

On Thursday, May 31st, Queens Anti-Gentrification Project will help host the first  CB2 Neighborhood Committee Public Meeting. You can RSVP to the Facebook event here.

We will be talking about different ongoing campaigns including the fight against a mega church development right in the middle of Little Manila in Woodside (you can read some info about it here), which the BSA, the city agency in charge of this application, recently bought back onto their agenda. We’ll also be talking about the so-called Triple Threat, i.e. the BQX, Sunnyside Yards, and LIC core rezoning. Queens Anti-Gentrification Project has written multiple posts on this, including this letter open letter to Jimmy Van Bramer written last year. One thing we are particularly concerned about is the statements suggesting that Sunnyside Yards development is moving forward. We will also give an update on a series of FOIL requests  on the  BQX, which was filed in collaboration with Progress New York.

During the meeting there will also be time for those who come through to talk about things they’re working on and for us all to figure out how we can support each other.

One of our main goals is to push for neighborhood planning that benefits poor and working class folks, immigrants, and Black people, instead of developers and politicians.

We invite you to come join us, get involved, and fight back against the onslaught of gentrification and displacement that is being directed towards Queens.

See you there!

 

Letter to Heritage of Pride Parade Demanding NYPD Not Participate

The following letter was drafted by a member Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, himself part of the LGBTQ community, then edited and endorsed by the rest of the group. It calls for the group that manages the Heritage of Pride Parade to disallow NYPD from participating in the parade, specifically their gay contingent, Gay Officers Action League New York or GOAL. This parade was formed to celebrate a rebellion against NYPD harassment, discrimination, and profiling and it should not be used to celebrate the police force, which to this day remains unapologetic for its history of abuse directed at the LGBTQ community. Moreover, our experiences with the NYPD and other first responders — with Broken Windows policing, to the systemic harassment of the trans community who are profiled as sex workers and arrested, to the eviction of the 85 Bowery residents, and to cooperation with ICE — shows us that if the NYPD is allowed to march in the Pride Parade, then these injustices will be pink-washed and the survivors of police violence dishonored.

The celebration of NYPD and corporatization of the parade, in general, has become too much: we call on groups and individuals to join us in making this demand, which you can do by emailing queensantigentrification@gmail.com.


21 April 2018

Julian Sanjivan, March Director
Heritage Of Pride, Inc.
154 Christopher St., Suite 1D
New York, New York 10014

The Hon. Corey Johnson, Speaker
The Hon. Daniel Dromm, Councilmember
The Hon. Carlos Menchaca, Councilmember
The Hon. Ritchie Torres, Councilmember
The Hon. Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember
New York City Council
City Hall Park
New York, New York  10007

Re :   Getting NYPD out of the Heritage of Pride Parade

The undersigned groups, listed in order of formation, demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea) and the members of the LGBTQ Caucus, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.

The LGBTQ community, and specifically trans people of color, have historically experienced violence at the hands of the police. There are countless examples of police attacking members of the LGBTQ community. Stonewall, itself, was a response to police harassment. Over the years, countless members of our community have been killed and harassed by the police. To this day, police target poor and working class sex workers in NYC, often members of the LGBTQ community, and prevent them from making a living. For trans people, even carrying a condom can get them arrested. Members of the LGBTQ community, however, are not just victims. They have a long history of fighting back against police harassment in the struggle for liberation. We must look to Sylvia Rivera, who famously urged the community to fight against police oppression. “I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights.”

The LGBTQ community is not alone in this fight. Currently, there is a nationwide movement against police brutality — from the protest movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to Black Lives Matter — people are demanding an end to police violence. Just two weeks ago, a man with mental health issues was gunned down in Crown Heights. Despite the endless procession of police murders, there has been no substantial police reform enacted.

The LGBTQ community contains within itself many other diverse communities. If our demands are to be taken seriously, they must respect those in our community who are the most oppressed. Therefore, the LGBTQ community must stand in solidarity with the nation-wide movement against police brutality taking place.

Two years ago, Black Lives Matter activists largely won reforms in the Pride Parade in Toronto, Canada, where police were not allowed to march in their uniforms or in their patrol cars. This was two years ago, and New York City, which used to be on the vanguard of activism, has been unable to produce any reform in its Pride Parade. It’s time for us to get the NYPD out of participating in the Heritage of Pride Parade. We cannot allow their violent history to be pink-washed by letting them participate in this parade.

These are some of the reasons we demand that the NYPD not be allowed to participate in the Heritage of Pride Parade :

Furthermore, many in the LGBTQ community have reason to fear the police.

Half of transgender people report feeling uncomfortable seeking police assistance. More than 1/5th (22%) who have interacted with police reported police violence, and 6% of transgender individuals reported they have experience bias-motivated by police officers. Black transgender people reported must higher rates of biased harassment and assault (38% and 15%)…

Transgender people who have done sex work or participated in underground economies often report elevated levels of police violence—this includes 16% of all trans people, 34% of Latino/a trans people, and 53% of Black trans people.

Source : Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

For the foregoing reasons, we demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly City Council Speaker Johnson, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.

Signed,

Queens Anti-Gentrification Project
Brooke Cerda Guzman
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Alan Bounville
Michael Petrelis
Black and Pink NYC
Code Pink
Queer Palestinian Empowerment Network

PRESS RELEASE (4-10-18): GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Forest, 
queensantigentrification@gmail.com

GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

New York, NY (Apr. 10, 2018) – On March 28, 2018, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, in collaboration with the news Web site Progress New York, filed a series of open records requests as part of an investigative effort to examine the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or BQX. A total of nine (9) open records requests have been filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Highlights include:

  1. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Buildings construction records submitted by developers along the route of the BQX. The purpose of this FOIL request is to ascertain whether developers positioned to profit from this public works project have been properly reporting rent-regulated apartments.
  2. FOIA request seeking U.S. Department of Justice records from the ‘pay to play’ Federal corruption probe against the de Blasio administration specifically related to the BQX.
  3. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Environmental Protection records, demonstrating the extent to which the City is aware of the relationship between large construction projects and increased lead levels in tap water.
  4. Financial feasibility studies related to the BQX used as the basis of controversial memo in which the City admitted the BQX was not financially feasible, submitted to the Office of the Mayor.

A full list of the FOIA/FOIL requests filed can be found here: https://progressnewyork.news/research-data/

The open records requests were filed two weeks before Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was put on the defensive about media reports that again questioned the financial feasibility of the BQX project.

FOIL Request Constructively Denied

After filing one of the FOIL Requests, the one requesting BQX feasibility studies from the Office of the Mayor, we were informed that the Office of the Mayor would require one (1) year before a determination would be made about the release of records. Progress New York obtained guidance from the Committee on Open Government based in Albany, and the guidance provided indicates that if an Agency subject to FOIL refuses to grant access to records beyond 20 business days, that refusal can be treated or interpreted as a denial of records that can be appealed. Progress New York will be appealing this constructive denial.

The deliberate withholding of records by the Office of the Mayor comes as Mayor de Blasio has admitted that the City of New York will be unable to pay for the BQX project using a controversial value capture tax system that will benefit some participants in the real estate industry, who own or plan to develop real property along the proposed route of the BQX project.

Appeal for Legal Assistance

Progress New York seeks pro bono legal assistance in preparation, if necessary, to litigate the denial of records. If any lawyer or legal group can provide pro bono legal support, please contact: contact@progressnewyork.new
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The City is Ours, if We Take It: Breaking Up With Neo-liberal Politicians

(To preface this article, we reiterate our support for the LIC Coalition’s demands and petition, which can be viewed here: https://www.change.org/p/city-elected-officials-save-the-waterfront-this-land-is-our-land-public-land-for-public-use. However, below, we outline our serious concerns related to the involvement of Jimmy Van Bramer in today’s protest.)

This afternoon (3/3/18) Big Real Estate’s beloved Jimmy Van Bramer will be headlining a rally to protest the giveaway of public land to private developers in Long Island City. His act of doing so will be steeped in the most palpable hypocrisy – on a soapbox, the politician will be enveloped by skyscrapers and development projects that he himself helped conceive of and promote. With luxury condos surrounding Saturday’s “This Land is Our Land” protest, let those present recall that Jimmy Van Bramer was hailed a champion of the LIC BID, received the most donations of any city council candidate (of which over $100,000 from Big Real Estate), was complicit in the destruction of 5-Pointz, is a staunch supporter of the BQX, among many other unforgivable positions.

Many of the developers who own skyscrapers in LIC donated repeatedly to Van Bramer, who, in turn, helped facilitate their development.

Don’t Call it a Comeback

One might wonder why such a stalwart supporter of Big Real Estate has agreed to speak at this protest. The answer simply comes down to opportunism: Van Bramer, a standard middle-of-the-road Democrat, no more “progressive” than De Blasio or Hillary Clinton, and just as neo-liberal, has had his left-wing persona damaged by groups who have fought to bring his record to light. Following his failed City Council Speaker bid and his subsequent announcement that he will be running for Queens Borough President, the politician seeks to reestablish himself as a leader of the “#resistance” and cement support from neighborhood groups going forward. Therefore, after an enormous community effort, he has chosen to support this one cause. But at what price?

Accidentally Selling Out Your Neighbors

In short: The mere presence of Jimmy Van Bramer is an affront to the work so many have done and to all those who are currently getting priced-out and displaced because of his policies.

Politicians, especially ones with Jimmy Van Bramer’s record, do not do things out of the goodness of their heart. Each move is calculated, with contingencies and hidden clauses, all arranged to promote their political career. If Jimmy Van Bramer was true to his word, he would call for a city-wide ban on the giveaway of public land to private developers (he won’t – remember, he voted for the Bedford-Union Armory deal). If Jimmy Van Bramer were really here for his constituents, he would fight for 100% low-income PUBLIC housing, not De Blasio’s public/private partnership through MIH/ZQA. If Jimmy Van Bramer was a champion of “#queensvalues”, as he proclaims to be, he would have adamantly rejected the BQX (aka the Gentrification Express) long ago.

If Jimmy Van Bramer was true to his word, he would call for a city-wide ban on the giveaway of public land to private developers (he won’t – remember, he voted for the Bedford-Union Armory deal). If Jimmy Van Bramer were really here for his constituents, he would fight for 100% low-income PUBLIC housing, not De Blasio’s public/private partnership through MIH/ZQA. If Jimmy Van Bramer was a champion of “#queensvalues”, as he proclaims to be, he would have adamantly rejected the BQX (aka the Gentrification Express) long ago.

The dangers of allowing Jimmy Van Bramer to headline any rally related to land use, displacement or gentrification is two-fold: first, when the time comes, he will call in his debts. Secondly, and more importantly, it comes at the price of potentially accidentally selling out your neighbors. For example, Jimmy Van Bramer has promised that Queens NYCHA developments will not get privatized through Next Generation NYCHA, but what about our friends in the Bronx, Harlem or Brooklyn? As a City Council member, does he not owe it to all NYC residents to push for fair and just housing policy, not just for those who’s votes he conveniently needs? Another example: many have been fighting for Jimmy Van Bramer to reject the BQX, a position he has declined to take. How does allowing Jimmy Van Bramer to headline a rally related to gentrification help other causes that are just as important? Instead of collectively strengthening our position, giving Jimmy Van Bramer a platform does the exact opposite.

Reforms Not Reformism

Queens Anti-Gentrification Project endorses the idea of “reforms without reformism”, meaning that we refuse to work alongside those politicians we see so clearly are our enemies. Instead, we strongly believe that neighborhood groups must come together, independent of politicians, and fight for and demand certain reforms that are so desperately needed – and to do so from a position of strength and solidarity. By remaining independent, politicians can either listen to or reject our demands, which is their alleged job anyway.

History has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that working alongside neo-liberal Democrats consistently leads down a road that gives them the upper hand. Its time we reject this path and build our own power.

If you are tired of working with politicians like Jimmy Van Bramer and believe in the need for independent grassroots groups and civic engagement, please feel free to get in contact.

If you want to read more about Jimmy Van Bramer’s record, you can check out our other blog posts here.

We demand a city-wide ban on the give away of public land!

Triple Threat Letter to Jimmy Van Bramer

Dear Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer:

We are writing this letter to give voice to hundreds of neighbors, small businesses, community board members, and other local stakeholders within our district who are deeply concerned about the future of their communities and who signed a petition urging you to oppose a “triple-threat.”

Every year, it is becoming increasingly unaffordable to live in District 26. As West Queens is experiencing a large building boom, rents and home prices have skyrocketed. In Long Island City, which is now the fastest growing neighborhood in the country, an average one-bedroom now costs $3,237. These high rents not only make it hard for LIC residents to stay but also pressure surrounding neighborhoods. As just one example, in Sunnyside, this past summer, a home sold for a record $1.9 million.

Beyond soaring property values, the overdevelopment of our neighborhoods has also paid a heavy toll on our infrastructure and environment: our subway lines are highly congested (with the 7 train being one of the worst offenders in the city) our schools are some of the most overcrowded city wide; our neighborhoods have some of the highest shortages of park space in the city; and our waterfront is endangered by overdevelopment.

This development did not happen by accident, or by the so-called “free-market;” the destruction of our neighborhoods is the direct result of irresponsible planning and public policies that favor luxury real estate developers and those with capital over everyone else. Specifically, these include the 421-a tax abatement that gives tax breaks to the largest luxury developers in LIC like Tishman Speyer and Rockrose, and rezonings for higher density which significantly enriched these same developers by allowing them to build super-tall residential towers that rival Manhattan. This not only includes neighborhood rezonings like the ones we have seen in LIC, but also spot rezonings, like the one you approved to allow the Wolkoff brothers to tear down Five Pointz and replace it with a luxury residential development.

As if this weren’t enough, we have learned that the Mayor has plans to encourage even more development in our communities—development that we know will not be affordable for low-income, or even middle-income New Yorkers. Specifically, he has planned a triple-threat, which if collectively passed would drastically change the future of West Queens. These include:

The BQX Trolley is a private trolley that would run along the waterfront in  Astoria, Queens and run through Long Island City all the way to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, displacing low-income residents and businesses along its entire stretch. This proposal may be in the “planning” phase, but we know enough about the plan to know that we do not need a luxury trolley in our neighborhoods. The plan’s financing is based on a value capture model—which is a euphemism for raising property values all along the waterfront, to be recaptured and help pay for the operations. Furthermore, as explained by Hunter Professor Sam Stein in the recent documentary, The Gentrification Express: Breaking Down the BQX, and a leaked confidential memo from the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s BQX advisory team to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, we have learned that even the $2.5 billion will not be enough to cover the costs, which are likely to far exceed this amount and come out of our tax dollars. This money could be much better used to address our existing 7 train issues, adding new bus routes to transit desserts, and improving “Access-A-Ride” car services that have dismally failed our most vulnerable seniors and neighbors with disabilities.

The Sunnyside Yards, where the city plans to build a new neighborhood that would comprise mostly of luxury housing. Earlier this year, the city released a feasibility study with various development scenarios. In every scenario, market-rate housing far outweighed any affordable housing or community use. At this early stage, the study predicts that this development could cost as much as $19 billion—that is $19 billion that could be put to much better use, such as covering the severe capital gap in NYCHA public housing, and investing in true low-income housing.

The Long Island City Core rezoning is the city’s plan to encourage more mixed-use, commercial development in LIC. While additional commercial space for existing, Queens-based small businesses and affordable studios would be desirable, given the already high density of LIC, we know that these new spaces will not be affordable. The city also claims that the rezoning would require developers to build additional “affordable units” through the Mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) plan. These additional units would be minimal as developers already have significant incentives through programs like ‘Affordable Housing New York’ which provides a 35-year tax break in exchange for building some “affordable units” in neighborhoods like LIC. We also know that units built through MIH are truly not affordable, as they are for households making an average of 60% of the area median income (approx. $50,000 for a household of three), and can also be for households making well over $100,000.

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned with the planning process itself, which to date has minimized resident participation, with minimal notice given to community residents and discussion formats that limit participation. In fact, during a recent planning meeting, residents were only able to present their thoughts after they demanded a town-hall format and seized the microphone from city planners.

During that town-hall, residents agreed: the only rezoning that should be considered in LIC is a downzoning to correct the mistakes of the past.

We are directing this these concerns to you, because while these proposals may come from the Mayor’s office, all three of these developments will eventually come to you for a vote. We also know that in cases where multiple Council Members are involved (such as the BQX proposal), you wield influence as the majority leader. The real estate industry has much to gain from your votes, and so we were not surprised to see that you raised nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions–even while running unopposed. That is also why we were not surprised to find through our research (which was confirmed by an independent investigation by City Limits) that you are a top recipient of real estate money, accepting the most real estate dollars, second only to Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito.

 

We have heard you say that you are “concerned” about the triple-threat, and that these campaign contributions you have received from Luxury Real Estate Developers do not influence your decisions. If that is the case, we want you to put those words into action, specifically by challenging the Mayor and openly opposing these developments that will further destroy our communities.

We have also heard you say that these plans are too early in the planning stages, that action will come later, but we know that this is false. Once any of these plans make it to the city’s formal review process, Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), it will be extremely difficult for residents to influence the final outcomes, which are ultimately decided by the city, and voted on by you, our councilman. That is why Sunset Park residents (successfully) demanded that Council Member Menchaca withdraw his support from the BQX (he now admits that “the BQX is predicated on having a successfully gentrified neighborhood”) and that is why we are calling on you to stop the triple-threat now.

We are also collectively calling on you to fight for full funding of NYCHA public housing, which suffers from a $17 billion capital deficit as well as a city-wide rent freeze. We learned that you have called for a “city-wide rent freeze” in your re-election campaign platform, but we have yet to hear anything from you about how you plan to implement one across all residential and commercial units. Now that you have used this platform to win, we demand to know what is your plan to make this a reality for Queens residents who are in desperate need of housing protections.

To date, over 800 neighbors have joined us in signing a petition, calling on you to oppose these developments. These signatures have been collected collaboratively by Queens neighbors and grassroots groups including: Democratic Socialists of America – Queens Branch; Peoples Power Assemblies; Queens Anti Gentrification Project; Queens Is Not For Sale; and SPARC (Serve the People – Awaken Revolutionary Consciousness). Please find the paper signatures attached to the email, along with these additional online signatures.

This petition is only the beginning. For as long as these developments threaten our communities, we will continue to do the work of informing our neighbors and organizing with them to hold you, and all those in power accountable to do the right thing for the future of our families, neighbors and beloved communities.

Sincerely,

Queens Neighbors

Queens Anti Gentrification Project
Queens Is Not For Sale
SPARC
Democratic Socialists of America – Queens
Peoples Power Assemblies

Long Island City does not Need a Vertical ‘Country-Club’ on Public Land

Originally published on CityLimits.org: https://citylimits.org/2017/10/12/cityviews-long-island-city-does-not-need-a-vertical-country-club-on-public-land/

There’s something different about the newest luxury towers planned for Long Island City’s waterfront. The private developer, TF Cornerstone, has already developed 6 waterfront LIC properties, but this time, it plans to build on public, city-owned land—one of the few remaining parcels in Long Island City.

Earlier this year, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) announced its selection of TF Cornerstone to redevelop the public site. Considering that Mayor de Blasio has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from private developers, including TF Cornerstone, the “carrots” offered in this deal for Queens residents should be considered with a generous grain of salt:

  • 250 units of affordable housing: The so-called “affordable” units will be out of reach for truly low-income residents—and even these units will make up only 25 percent of the total 1,000 residential units that will be primarily luxury housing. The inclusion of affordable housing is not a gift; but rather, the bare minimum requirement for TF Cornerstone to qualify for 35-year tax breaks.
  • Approx. one-acre park with canoe and kayak launch point: This park will not relieve the shortage of green space as it would primarily serve as a backyard for the new luxury towers which alone will house 1,000 new households.
  • Public school: Again, this project will not relieve the overcrowding of LIC schools as it will simultaneously bring in 1,000 new households. More households means more children who need schools.
  • Thousands of new jobs: The lead selling point for this project is that it would create 4,000 jobs; however, more than half of the jobs (2,500) will be temporary construction jobs.
  • New industrial space: Finally, the crowning jewel of the project is industrial space managed by a nonprofit organization. However, this “affordable” industrial component actually makes up less than 10 percent of the massive 515,000 square feet of industrial, commercial, and retail space that TF Cornerstone plans to build—and profit from.

What would another TF Cornerstone development look like?

TF Cornerstone has already developed numerous towers including the 4540 Center Boulevard building right next to the proposed redevelopment site. These developments include tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, billiards, theater, gyms and more —an intentional design to ensure residents circulate disposable income and time within their building, rather than walking the actual neighborhood where they might support existing local businesses.

Our residents can indulge in a country-club-like atmosphere without leaving their own street,” bragged Sofia Estevez, TF Cornerstone’s executive vice president, in a recent statement.

As City Limits has previously reported, over 95 percent of all recent Long Island City developments have been market rate housing (read: unaffordable), so it is hard to imagine that the neighborhood truly needs another country club—let alone one that is built with public support.

Yes, Queens residents need new jobs, parks and affordable housing – but we can in fact achieve these goals without luxury housing. There are dozens of nonprofit developers across NYC that would readily seize the opportunity to develop true community space and affordable housing, if they weren’t always overlooked by the city for private developers like TF Cornerstone, Jonathan Rose Companies and L&M Developer Partners.

Can this project be stopped? – YES!

The public site is zoned for manufacturing use and therefore a luxury residential tower cannot be built as-of-right. To change the zoning, the project will have to go through the formal community review process, the Uniform Land Review Process (ULURP). Once in ULURP, the project will require an advisory vote from the community board’s land use committee and full board. And most importantly, it will require a vote from City Council, which almost always defers to the local City Council Member.

In other words, if Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer opposes this project, it is dead.

Only a few months ago, Crown Heights residents succeeded in convincing their local Council Woman and Borough President to oppose a similar project in Brooklyn where the same agency, EDC, sought to privatize another public site, the Brooklyn-Union Armory. In that project, at least 50 percent of the rentals and 20 percent of the condos would be affordable, but Crown Heights residents wouldn’t be sold short. They mobilized and organized, and successfully pressured their local elected officials who are now calling for nothing short of a 100 percent affordable project. We can do the same in Queens.

Hundreds of residents have already signed onto an LIC Coalition petition against the TF Cornerstone project, and as more residents learn about this public land give-away to a “country-club” developer, this movement will only grow.

Response to Mitch Waxman

This is a reponse to Mitch Waxman’s critique of our recent op-ed at City Limits: We Have to Talk About Gentrification in Long Island City.  Mitch’s response is located below the original article.

Queens Anti-Gentrification Project is well aware of the infrastructure issues plaguing our neighborhoods. We are concerned with infrastructure. However, the op-ed we wrote for City Limits does not mention infrastructure. What the op-ed deals with, very specifically, is the financial influence of the real estate industry on city politics, income inequality, and most importantly – the displacement of human beings from their homes and livelihoods.

Why, then, is Mitch Waxman’s response attempting to reframe the discussion in terms of infrastructure? Why does the response ignore our main points and accuse us of “painting” Jimmy Van Bramer as a villain?  We quoted Jimmy Van Bramer verbatim from a real estate conference appearance, and we invite all readers to watch the video themselves.  We aren’t “painting” anything.  We’re merely stating facts:

Jimmy Van Bramer took over $100k in campaign donations from real estate, he frequently speaks at real estate conferences, he has consistently spoken publicly in favor of luxury development in his district, and he refuses to take concrete action to prevent mass displacement. None of these facts are being contested, so if these are the attributes of a villain, then perhaps Mitch Waxman is asking the wrong question.

As for the mentality that more luxury development is inevitable – the result of a “population explosion” – this is precisely the type of myth we were trying to debunk in the first place.  It is not inevitable, it’s a result of public policy and city planning, and we will do everything we can to stop it.