In Jackson Heights, Queens, Attorney Josselyn Atahualpa is in a court battle with Target. Target is trying to open a 23,000 sq ft
Super store. It is one of 4 that Target is trying to open in NY, and one of 130 of such stores that Target is trying to open across the country. The newspaper club went to this pubic hearing, and we interviewed the attorney for the QNU (Queens Neighborhoods United. This is that interview.
What’s wrong with having a 23,000 sq ft Target in Queens? Only stores of 10,000 ft or less are allowed because of the zoning laws of the area. The developers and Target are claiming that they’re exempt because they are building part of it underground. We know that’s not right and by exceeding the limitations they are helping displace our neighbors and local small businesses because it’ll cause rent increases.
What’s keeping you (all) in this fight? Some of us have family who own businesses in the area and most of us live within walking distance already struggling with high rents. We love our community and we don’t want to see our neighbors kicked out because of greedy developers who are only interested in making a profit. We know that if we don’t fight back now, we too will be displaced.
What do you hope for the future of commercial space in NYC? We wish developers weren’t so invested in making a profit and that they would stop skirting zoning regulations. We want a future where community’s demands are respected by the real estate community. There are many needs in different communities across the city, and we know the current model for economic development isn’t working. We need more public and accessible spaces in NYC.
Does the preservation of small businesses and green space matter to you personally? Why? Yes. It matters to us because it matters to our community. We talk to small businesses and to people on Roosevelt and this is what we hear from everyone. The immigrant small business owners all along Roosevelt Ave worked so hard to make Roosevelt the commercial corridor it is and we won’t let them be displaced. Our community in this part of Queens cherish the Flushing Meadows Park so much because that’s really the only big green space we have, people are constantly asking for more parks.
I believe that there are already enough super malls/stores in NYC and that Target is cray-cray for trying to open 130 more stores across the country. I guess that’s it.