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Court Square Residents Form Civic Group to Tackle LIC Development

By Jeanmarie Evelly | September 23, 2016 2:51pm | Updated on September 26, 2016 8:30am
 Thousands of new apartment units are being built in Court Square, Long Island City, over the next several years.
Thousands of new apartment units are being built in Court Square, Long Island City, over the next several years.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY  — Court Square, a longtime hub for office workers that's grown increasingly residential over the last few years, is getting its own civic organization dedicated to shaping future development.

The Court Square Civic Association will hold its first public meeting Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at MoMA PS1. It will feature a panel discussion with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Penny Lee of the Department of City Planning and Paul Januszewski of the local developer Rockrose.

The group wants to provide a platform for those who live and work in the neighborhood to discuss possible solutions to overdevelopment and the impacts it has on the area's infrastructure, transportation, public safety and other factors, according to founder Amadeo Plaza.

"We wanted to help kind of coral those voices and start that dialog between the people who live there and the people who want to build there," said Plaza, 29, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago with this wife.

"We're part of that new wave of residents, but at the same time we were cognizant and respectful of the fact that there was so much more to be experienced in the neighborhood than just going there to go to sleep."

Thousands of new apartments have recently opened or are in the pipeline in the Court Square area and nearby Queens Plaza, with developers planning increasingly taller high-rise towers.

Plaza said he was disheartened to see the 5Pointz graffiti hub torn down to make way for luxury apartments and joined protests earlier this year when a developer began illegally tearing down the former Elks Lodge with plans to build condos there.

"I think a lot of people in situations like that, they feel powerless. But there is an opportunity to have some power in how a neighborhood gets shaped," he said.

One of his goals is to ensure new development doesn't erase the neighborhood's existing character and culture.

"We knew that we didn't want this completely sanitized neighborhood to live in," he said.

The Civic Association will focus on the area south of Queens Plaza South and to the north and west of Sunnyside Yards, with its western boundary ending around 11th Street.

In addition to development, the group plans to advocate for local schools, parks and artist groups. He also wants the organization to help residents get to know one another.

"I want people to feel like I live in a community, not that I just live in a neighborhood," Plaza said. "That’s what we want to foster."

To learn more about the Court Square Civic Association and sign up for its mailing list, visit its website.