EIGHT years ago LICtalk proposed a radical solution to the endemic problems haunting Queensbridge: Raze it and rebuild. Today that solution has gained traction with the current Mayoral administration and might become a reality in the not-too-distant future.
Yesterday, The New York Times published a story entitled “To Improve Public Housing, New York City Moves to Tear It Down.” The first three paragraphs say it all:
NYCHA is set to announce on Wednesday that it is moving forward with a $1.5 billion plan to tear down the Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea Houses in Manhattan and replace them with new high-rise apartments for the residents who live there, after it became clear that replacing the deteriorating buildings would cost about as much as rehabilitating them.
“At Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea, more than 2,000 public housing apartments would be replaced. The new apartments would have dishwashers, washers and dryers, and access to rooftop terraces. The plan also calls for the construction of new retail and commercial spaces and 3,500 mixed-income apartments, with around 1,000 restricted to people earning lower incomes and the rest renting at market rates.
“It would be only the third tear-down in the agency’s nearly 90-year history, and the first time new, mixed-income buildings would be built on NYCHA land. City officials said they hope to replicate the plan elsewhere as conditions in public housing worsen.“
Will there be dislocation and disruption? Yes. Will there be hiccups great and small? Yes. Will cultures be altered and the history be lost? Yes.
Nevertheless the ends overwhelmingly justify the means. Through better optimization of these 30 acres of land, it would be a huge win for the current residents, middle class housing, the city, and developers.
The physical housing units would be a vast improvement to the current dilapidated ones. The mixed economic backgrounds would pull the lower classes up, instead of isolating them. The large increase in units overall would bring more, better, and very-conveniently located housing to NYC. And the increase in overall units would also come at a discount to market rate housing due to more supply meeting demand as well as the initial ‘trepidation’ concession.1 That concession would be locked in for pioneers through rent-stabilization, yet still be profitable for developers. Finally, NYC taxpayers would not have to pay for the improved housing for the poor, nor for the costly capital improvements needed to maintain these 80-year old buildings.
We spelled it all out in our initial article from 2015 ‘Raze Queensbridge,’ and have continued to do so over the years. All of these articles as well as the NYT story from yesterday are listed below.
Rarely is the solution for improving people’s lives so clear cut. Given the momentum, the time for change is now. Raze Queensbridge!
To Improve Public Housing, New York City Moves to Tear It Down – NYT article yesterday
RAZE QUEENSBRIDGE – we started it all back in February 2015
LIC Follow-Ups – “$400 million just for roofing and mold?” May 2015
LIC Go – “the horrible living conditions in an apartment in the Queensbridge Houses that was in dire need of repairs” July 2016
Knock Down The Projects And Bring In The Cranes – “Not because it was a blight on Long Island City – its presence has minimal impact, but instead as a pragmatic solution to the endemic problems of, well …the projects.” August 2018
Meanwhile Up In Queensbridge – “nothing short of a major overhaul will curtail this violence. In addition to the persistence and uptick of violent crime in Queensbridge – largely perpetrated on victims within it’s own community – we are coming to the beginning of a new administration.” November 2021
DOE Proposes New Zoning Format For LIC Schools – “Instead of busing kids out of their neighborhoods, we should be bringing more diverse residents into the less fortunate neighborhoods.” January 2022
- Here at LICtalk, we call it like it is [↩]