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Hunters Point, Queens A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems

Analysis by: Bernard Asagai Bettina Damiani Seth Hostetter Fall 2006 Community Development Planning Professor Lance Freeman Columbia University

Throughout the process of interviewing residents, business owners, and employees that A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


work for many of the various commercial enterprises within Hunters Point, our group has identified common themes that we believe should be addressed immediately. 1.

Affordable Housing

The subject of affordable housing is one that dominated many of our conversations throughout the interview process. In almost every instance of conversations with tenured residences of Hunters Point, the belief that the area had become one in which it was no longer affordable to attain housing saturated the conversations. Even during times when certain residents of Hunters Point did not desire to initially desire to converse with us during the process of our interviews, the mentioning of the question, “Are Rents Increasing In The Area�, would bring those same individuals into an immediate state of dialogue. It is our groups belief that one possible way to address the issues of affordable housing is for the State to mandate On-Site Inclusioanry Zoning within Hunters Point. As a part of the mandate, it is our position that the housing stock prices that would define this proposed zoned area that they reflect TRUE affordability for the tenured residents that live within Hunters Point. We make special attention to this point, given the current definition of affordability that Mayor Bloomberg defined. The Mayor stated that the development underway was being created for individuals whose salaries raged between $60,000 to $145,000. Given that the current median annual income for individuals living within Hunters Point is $46, 2421, the Mayor’s idea of that which is affordable is a great contrast to the current reality of tenured residences within Hunters Point. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the true median annual income of residents which is based from the 2005 American Community Survey for Hunters Point, the annual salary is $13,758 less than the absolute minimal level that is required to attain new housing under the plan that is currently being hard-pressed by the Mayor Bloomberg. To be more refined, this means that tenured residents that have spent their lives upon Hunters Point, for them to become apart of what is being proposed by their Mayor, they will have to attain and additional $1,146.05 per month, just to be included in the absolute lowest of the housing stock within the plan. It is this attention, or lack of attention to the tenured residents within Hunters Point that have escalated the levels of the lack of a true sense of community in the area. The reality that tenured residences can no longer afford to rent or purchase a home in the town in which they consider their own has caused deeply seeded anger and resentment amongst many area locals, of which we believe, could be mitigated by mandating that On-Site Inclusioanary Zoning be an element of the changes that the State and the Mayor are making within Hunters Point. Additionaly as was stated 1

A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


earlier within this document, the housing stock should our ideas be implemented, they must be affordable for the tenured residents within Hunters Point. This element cannot be over-looked for it is the principle point of contention. We believe that True Affordability in the context of the current reality of tenured residents will bring about True Peace. Furthermore, we believe that such actions would produce two vitals needs within the area. Firstly, it would insure that a portion of the housing stock would be available for tenured individuals and families amongst a wide-array of economic backgrounds upon Hunters Point, and secondly, such actions would physically promote a needed sense of community in that such actions would make neighbors of a wider array of residents and would assist in the elimination of the “us v. them� mentality that is the current state of affairs within the area.

2.

Development/Redevelopment of Downtown

The current investments within the housing stock of Hunters Point are enormous. According to our analysis, such high levels of capital investments appear as if they will continue to rise. The stark side of the high levels of investments within the area of residential property is that very little has been invested within the infrastructure of which can create a sense of community. Currently, it appears as if the government is leaving such development to the freemarket, however, it is our belief that a percentage of this specific development, that it should be lead by the local and city governments. For instance, there are numerous areas within Hunters Point that that if they were developed, would make for wonderful areas that could assist in the building of a sense of community. The downtown boulevard of Vernon Street is a prime example of an area that is in A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


need of major development. The location appears to have the feeling of an old-style town, sitting within the shadows of 21 century development. The lack of development/redevelopment within this area adds to the sense of a lack of physical continuity and connection within the area. As was the case of our recommendations for the residential housing stock, the commercial real estate stock in our opinion is in need of some mitigating actions to assist new businesses that are looking to invest within the area, as well as older businesses that are looking to retain and adapt their businesses to the new gentry that are beginning to flow into the area. Such mitigating actions that we are suggesting are for the creation of a Special Local Infrastructure Fund. Such a fund paid into by new condominium and apartment complexes to the area. The fund would pay for public infrastructure in and surrounding the downtown areas. Such funding should be used for the reconditioning of sidewalks, streets, and dog parks, as well as the investment of an updated Police Department that has within it, built-in parking for Police and Emergency vehicles. We are also proposing that the creation of Special Small Business Loans for tenured and new businesses within Hunters Point be created within the proposals for the area, so that tenured businesses have a means to modify and update their businesses so that they cane become more appealing to tenured residents, as well attract the spending power of the new gentry that are currently moving to Hunters Point. Also, we believe that measures should be made to assist new residents to the area that have good business ideas, get started s well. Such an action would nullify the current feelings of local residents and businesses, that their community is being over-run by outside forces and that there is little that they can do to combat the forces. Adoption of this point within our proposal, would not only assist the completion of the full scale of the project, but upon it’s completion, could provide a greater sense of neighborhood cohesiveness that currently does not exist. It is our belief as well, that the downtown central area of Hunters Point if it had the proper initial economic stimulus necessary, that it could make the area a magnet for Manhattanites that desire to escape the confines of the City, but do have the time necessary for a long commute. We believe that given Hunters Point’s close proximity to the City, that more attention needs to be give to not only those that are looking for more attractive rents near the City, but City dwellers that are looking for a quick getaway. If Hunters Point had more amenities such as a few Bed & Breakfasts locations, as well a few Small Theaters and a Movie Theatre as well, it is possible that the area itself could attract more outside business which could assist in providing greater economic stability to the area as well an increase in the areas tax revenues. It is our belief that the areas potential is far greater than that of being a great place to reside, but has within it as well, the ingredients necessary to make it a great place to get away from, one of the greatest cities on the face of the earth. A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


3.

Creation of Subsidized Ferry Service to Manhattan

It is our position that subsidized water ferry service should be adopted as a mode of transportation between Manhattan and Hunters Point. We believe that the addition of a ferry service to Hunters Point, that it would not only be good to assist in broadening the transit possibilities for residents that are currently living within Hunters Point, but should the population increase as is expected, the service could assist in the promotion of new avenue of truism from Manhattan to Hunters Point. Such a service addition to Hunters Point could provide quick and redundant service for residents that live within the area, as well as a means for a quick, romantic and picturesque, escape for residents that live within Manhattan and desire a quick escape. Such a service as well, would be a wonderful way to attract tourists visiting the area of New York City, to visit as well, the area of Hunters Point. Such actions would create tax revenue which could probably quite quickly, mitigate the cost of the subsidies necessary to make such a ferry service a reality upon Hunters Point. Also, should such an idea become a reality, we think that a Local Market should be created that would rest between the ferry dock, and the central city itself. We are proposing this because it’s placement would gently force local resident, tourists, and visiting Manhattanites, to pas by the markets shops as well as possibly patron. Furthermore, it is our belief that the shops that would make up this public square; they would consist of a true mix of tenured local residents, as well as new gentry that are new to the area. Such an action would spur community cohesiveness, as well as increased tax revenue. Also, such measures create the possibility of employment retention within Hunters Point. As jobs have moved outside the area over the years, these measures would assist in bring employment back. In finalizing this specific point, it is our belief that as much as it possibly can, that the building of the Local Market, as well as possibly the Ferry Dock, that it be done from the services of local companies within Hunters Point; if such experience exist within the area. We propose such action because it could act as compounded mitigating element in assisting with the development of a shared sense of community. The ability to share in a physical form that has been communally created has the ability A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


make residences continually reflect that community made such a form exist. We are promoting these ideas of development in and around the waterfront to address another issue that was a reoccurring theme in our conversations with many tenured residents. Many of them had the feeling that the area along the waterfront, that it was no longer a place for them to enjoy. By the creation of a ferry dock, as well as a local market that resides within it’s proximity, such actions should assist in ensuring that access to the waterfront is accessed by all, as well as experienced by all the towns residents. The dock could be created to not only for the services of ferry boats, but it could be built to host a full Restaurant, Bar, and Café that would overlook the New York City skyline as well. Such measures in connection with a ferry service, could provide even greater attraction from residents of Manhattan, Tourists visiting the area of New York City, as well as tenured a new residents of Hunters Point. Such projects have the ability to create not only a sense of community, but a uniqueness of community as well.

Actions That Promote Waterfront Access To All Creation of a Fund that is paid for by the new residential complexes and apartment buildings…such a fund would assist in fixing roads, sewage, sidewalks and public areas within the city.

A Neighborhood in Transition Recommendations To Mitigate Existing Development Problems


Neighborhood Proposal