Photo via Facebook/Court Square Civic Association
Fight Against LIC Air
www.qns.com I LIC COURIER I OCTOBER 2018 25
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH
A flurry of signs waved in the air at
the corner of Dutch Kills Street and
Jackson Avenue on Sept. 22 as
residents living near Court Square
in Long Island City rallied in support
of turning the land underneath the
ramps of Queensboro Bridge into public space rather
than developing it.
Air rights to the land are being sold by the Depart-ment
of Housing Preservation Development (DHP) to
a private developer who plans on constructing two tall
towers on Jackson Avenue.
“Court Square has seen explosive growth over the
past several years with no investment in our fragile
infrastructure," said Pedro Gomez, president of the
Court Square Civic Association. "These 3+ acres of
underutilized public land have not adapted to the bustling
24/7 neighborhood of today."
To the Court Square Civic Association, the sale of air
rights represents a transfer of public rights for private
use with the purported goal of increasing affordable
housing in Long Island City and meeting Mayor DeBla-sio's
aggressive affordable housing goals. They feel
that quality of life is being compromised.
When asked about the rally, the HPD that the city
is indeed in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.
"We are aggressively pursuing every opportunity
available to us to develop affordable housing throughout
this city," a spokesperson stated.
According to HPD, the agreement the city negotiated
with the developer in the interest of ensuring affordable
housing includes the sale of air rights in exchange for
30 percent of the residential floor area corresponding
to approximately 150 permanently affordable units.
But the two lots that the HPD is transferring rights
from are unbuildable, according to the civic associa-tion.
They are intersected by the Queensboro bridge
The DOT would only be able to build on these lots
if they tore down the bridge approaches.
"These air rights would've never turned into a struc-ture
if it wasn't for this deal," the Court Square Civic
Association wrote on their website.
The association also believes that the formula being
used to calculate the amount of affordable housing
being produced by this transfer is misleading.
The developer claims that 42 percent of the units will
be affordable, but they're only talking about 42 percent
of the incremental square footage from the increased air
rights — 42 percent of the 356,497 square feet —not
the total square footage.
"We look forward to continuing the conversation with
community stakeholders about other potential uses on
DOT property, while we continue to weigh city concerns,
including contractor staging areas for capital projects on
the bridge, access for inspections and maintenance, and
safety and security concerns," said a DOT spokesperson
in response to resident complaints.