From Queens: The Brand Residents Don't Buy

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Governmental Programs vs Residential Needs

The municipal government brands Queens as the up-and-coming location for luxury apartments, entertainment venues, and sporting venues, emphasizing the diversity of this borough as its core drawing factor. With this idea in mind, the government has implemented certain redevelopment projects throughout residential neighborhoods or commercial areas. But is this what the residents have in mind?

Taxpayers often wonder where their money is going, and many hope that their money will go to support programs that directly affect them and address their major concerns. Unfortunately, the government's plans for Queens do not always correlate with the needs of residents. In our interviews, we found that many Queens residents want more affordable housing, more trash cans, and less disorder- immediate steps to action with immediate results. However, much of the money being invested in Queens is going to projects that do not address the concerns of the majority of Queens residents, specifically its middle-class.

In short, it is difficult to get the programs and projects that everyone wants because the municipal government, Queens government, and Queens residents have different concerns. Residents look at their individual communities and want amenities that neighborhoods deserve, such as increased parking space availability, while the government mostly sees Queens' economically profitable potential. Many of the immigrants who move to New York City call Queens home and are an integral part of the city workforce. It would make the most sense to place Queens and its residents as top priorities, but the government seems to gloss over this contradiction when administering redevelopment projects in Queens. In fact, a major problem with the government's branding of Queens is that, given the opportunity, the government would gladly get rid of the low income and middle class population. If all they are concerned with is how profitable Queens can be for the city, it is in their best interest to increase luxury housing for wealthy citizens because having wealthy citizens means more tax revenue for the city. Sadly, because lower income families accumulate less tax revenue for NYC, their needs have been greatly overlooked. A look at the proposed programs and projects that are already in action in Queens as seen below exposes the neglect of real community concerns (Santos).

Luxury Apartments Proposed for Hunter's Point, Long Island City (Hunter's)

Long Island City is currently undergoing a massive gentrification project to which the residents are opposed. Money is being funded to make luxury housing available in the area, the aim of which is to draw in more affluent "yuppies". But the gentrification of LIC does nothing to fix the lack of affordable housing in Queens; this project is meant to provide for those that have been priced out of Manhattan, but will effectively price out the people of Queens and displace them to a more affordable borough, or force them to leave the city altogether (Santos).

The proposed highway ramp that would be constructed in Willets Point Credit: Beyer Blinder Belle, LLP. (Hunter's)

The many auto repair businesses that would suffer from this major development project Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press (Hunter's)

A redevelopment project that will take place in Willets Point, located in eastern Queens between Corona and Flushing, is being threatened by residents' concerns. According to a New York Times article, the city is now facing a lawsuit from property owners over a specific aspect of the project: the construction of two highway ramps that drive through Willets Point, meaning the destruction of many of the auto repair shops and small businesses in the area.

Michael B. Gerrard is the lawyer defending the family of Bono Sawdust Supply and other small business owners under the claim that "the city has deliberately [underestimated] the volume of traffic the project would generate and playing down the difficulties in getting state and federal approval for the ramps" (Santos). These small business owners believe that focusing on the ramps is the best way to halt the redevelopment of Willets Point. This is another example of how municipal government spending contradicts, and ignores, the residents' wishes (Santos).

Interested in reading more about Willets Point? Click here for the NYTimes article and visit Residents' Views to learn more about how Queens residents feel about the redeveloping projects in their borough.


Santos, Fernanda. "Eager to Rebuild Willets Point, City Faces Legal Fight From Property Owners." The New York Times 26 Apr. 2010, New York edition ed.: A18. Web. 9 May 2010. <|>.

Hunter's Point, Long Island City

To learn more about the residents' needs, please click next.

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