Queens Figures Praise Decision To Withdraw 82nd Street Rezoning

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Catalina Cruz, at the Queens Community Board 4 hearing last March, speaks out against the rezoning proposal.

The developers behind a controversial proposal to rezone 82nd Street in Jackson Heights have decided to withdraw the rezoning of The Shoppes at 82nd Street project.

Sun Equity Partners and Heskel Group announced on Monday that they would no longer seek to rezone their project that was rejected by the Queens Community Board 4 last March. The plan drew fierce opposition from residents at hearings and protests.

Catalina Cruz, who spoke out against the proposal along with several community residents, highlighted that “the people spoke loud and clear” over the idea.

“As proposed, the new construction would have endangered the lives of the people in our community by blocking ambulances from getting to Elmhurst Hospital, jeopardized small businesses, and potentially raised the rent on tenants in the surrounding area,” Cruz said.

Nevertheless, Cruz said there is more work to do for residents in the area that are concerned with the cost of living.

“Our community remains in dire need of affordable housing, but it should never come at the expense of our safety. The developer now has the responsibility of engaging the community moving forward. We must ensure that the voices of our neighbors and small business owners are heard,” she said.

State Assemblymember Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona), who will face Cruz and Yonel Letellier Sosa this September in a Democratic primary, thanked community residents along with officials such as City Councilmember Francisco Moya (D- East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona) over the news.

“We may have won this battle, but we haven’t won the war. That’s why I’m launching an effort to stop overdevelopment and protect our community from increased traffic and congestion. I hope you’ll continue this fight with me,” she said on Twitter.

Jessica Ramos, who also spoke out against the proposal and is facing State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside), in the upcoming September primary, also felt relieved with the developers’ decision to withdraw the rezoning. Yet she said more remained, including the planned Target store that will open in 2019 (Full disclosure: The author is a former Target employee).

“We’re happy because the proposed development did not meet needs of our community and was out of character,” said Ramos. “Now, we need to get Target out.”