Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):
The development which is being built by H2H for St. John’s University in Jamaica Estates is a threat to many communities well beyond the borders of this residential community. As a civic leader who has had significant experience with St. John’s residential development, I feel obligated to comment on H2H’s media campaign, as illustrated by their recent advertisement in your newspaper. H2H states that safety and security for students and the community is their goal. They claim that they wish to address the severe shortage of safe, affordable student housing and that by providing institutional, supervised housing they will reduce illegal apartments within the community. History tells us otherwise. The more housing the university provides, the greater the demand will be; the greater the demand, the more students who will rent private homes in the surrounding community — many of them illegally. Many of us are more concerned about addressing the severe shortage of affordable housing for the full-time hard-working citizens of New York.
They state that the city sewer system is capable of handling the addition of their building. It is well known that the sewer system supporting this area is totally insufficient. There are hundreds of millions of tax dollars allocated to address these problems with at least a 30-year time table.
They boast that their plan conforms to the character of the neighborhood.New Yorkers know that neighborhood character is very local. Go a few blocks and we may feel as if we are in another section of town. The blocks that are affected by this development are of a different character than a seven-story dorm.This R5 zone is across the street from a R1-2 zone, one of the lowest density zones in NYC.
They claim that traffic disruption will be minimized by providing 80 spots underground for 485 car driving-eligible residents. This is true if only in the sense that if no parking were provided, the effect on traffic would be worse. Reality is that there will be hundreds of additional cars without any corresponding increase in parking at the Henley Road site.
St. John’s University wishes to expand to meet a demand for more housing for their students and generate the income that residential students provide. H2H wishes to fill St. John’s demand for student housing. That is the business of a developer-— to meet demand and realize a profit. I find it insulting to try to spin this development into anything other than what it is: the pursuit of the myopic self interest of a university and a good investment for a developer.