The project, initially planned as a convention center, is a mixed-use building that will include a hotel and retail space.
“This doesn’t represent the needs of our community,” said Rolando Bini of Nos Quedamos (We Stay) Queens last week at a protest in front of the construction site at 114th Street and Northern Boulevard. “We want affordable housing, we want a supermarket, we want a state-of-the-art public school here.”
Nos Quedamos, a coalition of community organizations in the area, believes the development will pave the way for rapid gentrification and displace working-class residents.
They also criticized a lack of affordable housing in the proposal, as well as the building’s location in the flight paths for LaGuardia Airport.
On October 17, representatives for the developer appeared before Community Board 3 to outline their project and announce they applied to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for the green light to more than double the height of the 12-floor building that was originally approved.
Attendees at the public meeting said there were no concrete plans or renderings in the presentation, despite Eastern Emerald Group having already invested more than $63 million at the site.
“We want to be fair to anybody who wants to come and build in our community, but what we want is transparency,” said Luis Gomez. “We want to be reasonable to developers who are willing to come into our neighborhood and develop buildings that are fair to everybody.”
Community Board 3 voted unanimously against the plans, with 33 members in opposition and one abstention, but the final decision will be made by BSA.
Easter Emerald Group maintains it has complied with all regulations and procedures, and that it is open to answering any questions the community poses.
The developers also believe the project will bring benefits to the neighborhood in the form of new jobs and increased economic activity.
“You’ll have a tourist base that stays local and spends money locally,” said project executive Bret McCabe, who added that nearly 80 percent of the construction workers on the site are from Corona.
Community organizations will bus residents to Borough Hall for a November 7th hearing to voice their opposition.