Note: Developers and the Department of City Planning are outright lying about what they intend to build at the former Amazon HQ2 site. This 3D rendering was sent to QAGP by an anonymous source depicting the scale and scope of what developers plan to build. This article is a call to community members to get involved and help organize to stop this.
In 2018, New Yorkers successfully came together to stop Amazon HQ2 from coming to Queens, denying multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos in his attempt to steal a piece of our publicly owned land and turn it into his personal profit. However, more than a year later, the threat of development has returned to the same site, this time in its traditional form: luxury real estate. Developers TF Cornerstone, LL Mag, Plaxall, and Simon Baron, along with their consulting agencies, have presented us with “Your LIC,” a full-blown propaganda campaign operating in lock-step with the Department of City Planning. Like all other city-backed development plans, residents have been invited to participate in workshops and “visioning sessions” where community input is recorded in order to manufacture a false image of democracy and community consent for development on the site. Meanwhile, developers, bureaucrats, and politicians have been working feverishly behind the scenes to ram more than a dozen luxury buildings down our throats. Their plan is simple: to skip the legally-mandated parts of the city’s land use review process and rubber-stamp the project.
When Amazon was defeated, we knew the fight was not over. We knew that our real estate funded city council representative, Jimmy Van Bramer, who invited Amazon here in the first place, had postured against the proposal only in response to public outcry, and that once the noise died down he’d be back to business as usual. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Van Bramer has already green-lighted the “Your LIC” project. This type of behavior is precisely why we should refuse to trust or give a platform to any politician, regardless of their rhetoric. We cannot risk putting our faith in unaccountable individuals or government institutions. We must depend only on each other and the institutions that we ourselves build. While we should be proud of the Amazon win, we should not give a single inch to those in power.
What the fight against Amazon showed us is that when we work together we can defeat corporate real estate development. We have power and strength in numbers, and we will defeat “Your LIC.” But with this in mind, we must position ourselves beyond the defensive and set our sights on something more. We must work to create a city that prioritizes human development over the profits of the rich, that views housing as a fundamental right rather than a safety deposit box, that provides free transit, and guarantees a dignified life to all without harassment by landlords, pigs, and la migra. It is time for us to take direct control over the city and our lives.