Editorial: The gentry are coming!

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The artists of Long Island City — at least some of them — say they see the handwriting on the wall. They fear that when the Museum of Modern Art relocates temporarily to Long Island City, it won’t be long before the gentry that gobbled up Soho and the Upper West Side in Manhattan discover that this neighborhood, just minutes from Manhattan, has untapped potential.

Artists who were able to find cheap rents in unused factories and warehouses say it won’t be long before the rents go up and they are forced out. But Realtors say the fears of gentrification are unfounded. They note that the rental market continues to be soft. (where did this come from?)

The question then is how to encourage development in Long Island City without evicting the artists. It seems inevitable that the cost of renting or buying property in Western Queens will increase significantly if the plans go forward to build new housing and create parkland and walkways along the waterfront. Thirty-seven blocks were rezoned last year to transform the neighborhood into the city’s next major business district, and the MetLife corporation has already moved into a renovated industrial building on Queens Plaza.

Added to that is the possibility that the Olympic Village will be located in Long Island City if New York City wins the rights to host the Olympic Games. Ideally the artists and their studios will be incorporated in the planning for the development in Long Island City. They add to the uniqueness of the area.

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