Heskel Group’s Queens retail project temporarily shut down by activists

Jackson Heights project hit with stop-work order following complaints by Queens Neighborhoods United

A rendering of 40-31 82nd Street and a stop sign (Credit: iStock)
A rendering of 40-31 82nd Street and a stop sign (Credit: iStock)

A local advocacy group has forced a stop work order on the Heskel Group and Sun Equity Partners’ controversial development of a Target store in Jackson Heights, Queens.

The plans relate to the redevelopment of an area known locally as “The Shoppes” at 40-31 82nd Street to make way for Target, variously reported to be around 20,000-square-feet in size.

The city’s Department of Buildings handed the developers the order after activist group Queens Neighborhoods United filed a zoning challenge on Aug. 10. If the project is to go ahead, the developers will need to submit revised blueprints to the agency.

This news comes after the City Planning Commission initially approved the original rezoning plan for the area back in July.

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The developers bought the plot in 2016 for $27 million.

Paula Segal, an attorney working on behalf of the activists, told Politico that current zoning regulations serve community needs and prevent the neighborhood from becoming “a destination” for outside residents.

Members of Queens Neighborhood United, backed by Councilman Francisco Moya and congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have cited worries about the proposed Target store being a harbinger of future development and “a vehicle for gentrification.”

Yeheskel Elias of the Heskel Group said that this does not represent the views of the community, but of “a few people who have taken the community hostage.” He told Politico that he expects the stop-work order to be lifted shortly. [Politico] — Patrick Mulholland

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