Jackson Heights has countless things going for it as a community. It has quick and easy access to the 7, E, F, M, and R trains. Finding good eats is simply a matter of walking a block or two. And it’s affordable with a good supply of rent stabilized apartments. And until recently, new development in the area had been limited to small, multi-family buildings. That is changing however, as 71-17 Roosevelt Avenue is making headway towards completion.
During our visit, the building’s foundation and footprint are well established. The main structure is already rising six stories, with another nine to go. The Roosevelt Avenue facing side of the building has not been constructed yet (although the foundation has been poured), but this is a rather small setback when compared to the scale of the remainder. 72nd Street construction is relatively tidy, although the massiveness of the project and loss of half a duplex has likely not gone unnoticed by the community. The main superstructure is rising steadily, with amenities that include outdoor space and sweeping vistas of the BQE.
In a sense, market rate apartments are no stranger to Jackson Heights, however, never quite on the scale of 71-17 Roosevelt Ave. For certain, this is the largest project in recent memory, with 15 stories with and 154 dwelling units according to DOB records. And of course, several more projects are planned for Jackson Heights, raising fears of gentrification in the area.
Such fears are not unwarranted or misplaced. Although 71-17 Roosevelt Ave’s construction did not appear to destroy any homes in the process (only the loss of New York Cho Dae Church, and half a duplex on 72nd Street), it’s scale and size will stand symbolically in the community. What that symbolism will mean depends greatly on how inclusive the new structure will integrate into the established community. There is no word yet on the rents per unit. But considering there is no indication of a regulatory agreement conveying rent stabilized status or affordability on the units, and there is no 421-a tax benefit attached to the property, the outlook seems grim for affordability.