While they do bring much-needed affordable housing to communities and a city mired in a housing crisis, the detriments far outweigh the benefits.
Take, for example, the development at the former Jackson Heights Cinema on 82nd Street in Elmhurst. While it would yield 120 units of housing, including 42 permanently affordable apartments, the 78 market-rate units will lead to rising rents in a neighborhood full of renters.
The project will bring a Target and other commercial stores to the area, which small business owners say will hurt their bottom lines and may even force them to close up shop.
Opponents who have protested the development also argue that the construction and addition of new cars and residents would further congest the already-overcrowded streets near Elmhurst Hospital, blocking patients from accessing care in a timely manner.
Even Councilman Moya, who negotiated with the developers Heskel Group and Sun Equity Partners to add affordable housing, has conceded this point. He says he’s in conversation with the hospital and city agencies to mitigate the situation.
But the problem can be avoided altogether if the City Planning Commission and Moya block the project from moving forward.
Although it seems unlikely at this point, given that the councilman has publicly supported the development, we urge Moya to reconsider.
Think about how the market-rate housing and big box stores will lead to displacement of longtime residents and mom-and-pop shops. They’re the people and institutions that made Jackson Heights and Elmhurst the bustling, vibrant neighborhoods they are today.
As a city and as a borough, we cannot say no to every development that comes our way. But we have to be smart about planning the future of our communities, and selective about which proposals make sense.
The 82nd Street development doesn’t pass that test.