LIC 44th Drive – the Inconsiderate Rezoning

The moment I walked out of Court Square Station on 44th Drive of Long Island City, I felt a completely different atmosphere with Manhattan. It was a Sunday afternoon and that area was dead- there were few people on the street, all factories had their roller gates shut, countless buildings with “Work Permit” signs, 5 parking lots along 44nd Drive were almost empty. I also noticed scattered trashes on the ground and inadequate infrastructure. Walking a few blocks down to 47th Ave, Long Island City suddenly surprised me with a completely different look, several luxurious skyscrapters that serves as apartment buildings stand next to one another. From my point of view, most of those buildings are at least 20 stories high, as they blocked most of the sky view. The streets and lawns around the apartment area were packed with people living in the neighborhood. The sheer difference between two areas in LIC reminds me of “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, which points out “the transmission of affect” as “the dichotomy between the individual and the environment and the related opposition between the biological and social”. As individuals are constantly influenced by the environment they are in, the “effects” shaped by environment will not only influence how people feel, but also how they tend to behave. This links me immediately to my research on rezoning project in LIC and its effects on local community.

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Photo1: Dense apartment buildings in LIC residential area

Through research, I learned about the dispute on the rezoning project of two city-owned lots where 44th Drive meets the East River, which is part of the overarching project Mayor de Blasio announced in 2017 to have Long Island City as one of the dozen or so neighborhoods the city planned to rezone as part of his plan to create an estimated 300,000 affordable units. The rezoning area includes 5-40 44th Drive, which is currently a Department of Transportation facility, and across the street at 4-99 44th Drive, which includes a Department of Education parking lot and the shuttered Water’s Edge restaurant, which has already been torn down under the plan. TF Cornerstone, the company assigned by NYC Economic Development Corp (EDC) for the rezoning project, promised to bring estimated 1,000 units – 250 of which would be deemed affordable. With only 25% of affordable units, TF Cornerstone gained authorization to build on city-owned land. LIC community held rallies against this project, as EDC never seem to be hearing what the community wants. There has been no public engagement events yet for this rezoning project. “This is completely unacceptable,” said Lisa Deller, chair of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee. “You have to understand that we are looking for economic diversity. This is city-owned land, it is our land…and if it is not 100 percent affordable it should be 50 percent affordable to people with modest means.” The major disputes lying in this project involves using public land for private and corporate interests, overdevelopment, lack of open space and school seats.

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Photo2: Department of Transportation facility involved in rezoning project

Apart from those disputes between two parties, I’m willing to take a objective perspective towards the precarity of the problem. Jane Bennet’s “Vibrate Matter: A Political Ecology of things” raises a term “thing-power” which offers an “alternative to the object as a way of encountering the nonhuman world”. Through this ecology project, I will not only interview parties involved in the project, but also pay attention to the “thing-power”- objects, infrastructures and other evidences that are capable of speaking for themselves.

 

Work Cited:

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.

Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004. 

 

—- By Candice S.

 

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~ by CandiceS. on September 23, 2018.

3 Responses to “LIC 44th Drive – the Inconsiderate Rezoning”

  1. Most informative award 🙂 – there was clearly a lot of research that went into this and especially for such a complicated topic as urban zoning.

  2. Most Informative Post:

    I definitely liked how thorough the paragraph between photos 1 and 2 was. It’s very well researched and it provides very specific detail about the locations at hand. You also did a great job of describing what the issue was (the rezoning project) with specificities about what would happen to each lot if TF Cornerstone were to follow through with the plans for the project. It was also great that you included information and research from the communities point of view. Describing the dispute between public and corporate gain was a good way to end the post.

  3. Style, voice, affect. Your description of Long Island City was very detailed, and from personal experience very accurate. I also like how to talked about the, “sheer difference between two areas”, the disparity in their area really is rather stark, clear, and obvious, and you’ve captured that in your post.

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