From the NY Observer:
Is Long Island City the next Murray Hill? Or the next Williamburg? Or has it gone straight from being like the old industrial before-it-was-cool Williamsburg to the future no-longer-cool because it’s all I-bankers living in luxury towers Williamsburg?
Will the neighborhood that has long felt like the middle of nowhere, despite being close to everywhere, finally feel like somewhere? And most importantly, what will that somewhere be like?
The problem with Long Island City is that it isn’t the industrial, taxi-cab, commercial-bakery filled hub that it used to be, but it can’t figure out who it wants to be. It is neither cheap, nor charming, nor particularly gritty anymore, which means that no one is willing, or able, to claim it as their own.
Its “rebirth” at the hands of developers, rather than the usual artists and creative types, has put the neighborhood in a strange position. Unlike nearly every other patch of ground in New York, whose identity is constant battleground between the old-timers and the new-comers, Long Island City is a no man’s land.
But in a larger sense, yes, it really does matter. A safe neighborhood with abundant housing and an easy commute that is grudgingly accepted because it offers “value” is, if not a total failure, then at least a huge disappointment. It’s wasted potential, a missed opportunity and something that, from an urban planning perspective, we should look to avoid.
As a recent editorial in the Architect’s Newspaper argued, the mega-projects rising around the city lack quality of place; their scales are vast, their public spaces uninviting, their surfaces too sleek. The city cedes control to developers with the resources to build these neighborhoods from scratch, willfully ignoring that while developers know how to physically transform a landscape and make money doing it, they know almost nothing about building a community or a sense of place.