Thursday, July 26, 2012
Is College Point oversaturated?
From the Wall Street Journal:
For decades, residents of College Point in northeastern Queens enjoyed its suburban feel—a quiet, waterfront enclave that sits on Flushing Bay and the East River.
But the addition of several big-box retailers in the 1990s, followed by new condo and co-op construction, brought in more residents and shoppers—creating traffic bottlenecks in an area dotted with several narrow, one-way streets.
And now, two new projects slated to make College Point home are further sparking congestion concerns.
One of the new projects, Point 128, a hotel and retail complex on 20th Avenue and 127 Street, will feature a 114-room "green" hotel, a supermarket, restaurants, a food court, shops and 124 parking spots.
Construction on the complex is nearly complete, and the hotel is expected to open in mid-August, with other portions of the facility opening later this year, according to Raymond Chan, the architect behind the complex.
But the scope of the development has sparked concern among residents as well as local officials because it is situated off already-congested 20th Avenue—home to retail chains such as BJ's Wholesale Club and T.J. Maxx.
"You can go on a weekend and the traffic is unbelievable—backed up to the service road of the Whitestone Expressway," said state Sen. Tony Avella, a Queens native who lives in neighboring Whitestone.
Mr. Avella added that locals have also had to deal with traffic brought on by the College Point Corporate Park, a 550-acre office park that is home to several companies.
But critics say the accommodations are insufficient and that College Point has been smothered with more development than its infrastructure can handle, changing the character of the neighborhood in a fundamental way.
"Historically, College Point was a quiet, residential neighborhood with a small-town atmosphere, where families lived for generations," said Mr. Avella. "I'm not against development, but the city has failed to match developments with infrastructure, and now they [residents] deal with traffic on a daily basis, sometimes like Manhattan."