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How’s Business?: Housing squeeze

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You live in Queens and sell your house. So one new family moves in, right? In many cases it’s several families that simultaneously move in. How can they fit all those people in your house?

It’s simple. They demolish your house and build two or three two-family houses that also conveniently may have rental basements. Some areas in Queens are zoned to allow for four- to six-family units to be built, under the legal jargon of “as of right,” even among a community of one-family homes.

Since our lawmakers never changed the zoning requirements of Flushing and other areas, Queens is experiencing a population explosion comprised mainly of immigrants.

The single-family zoned areas in Queens (with boundary specifications) are Malba, Douglaston, Little Neck and the Flushing area of Auburndale.

City Planning will be rezoning Holliswood from a single-family area with certain specifications pertaining to lot width, area and side yard width to a single-family area with more restrictive requirements.

And it’s happening all over, according to Robyn Stein of the Office of City Planning.

It’s quite complimentary that immigrants have selected Queens, but with it comes an infrastructure breakdown. Building opportunists, who are indifferent to the community, buy a house and demolish it to build multiple-family units. But is this good or bad business for the residents of Queens?

In order to get further insight, I spoke with the former chairman of Flushing Community Board 7, Adrian Joyce, who said that what people must be alert to is that they may live in a one-family community but that can change rather fast. All your neighbor has to do is sell his or her house and, bingo, you’ve got a four-family home next door.

Since we don’t have the infrastructure to support this growth, overall it is a negative for Queens, Joyce said. We have old sewer systems and water mains. In opening streets and feeding these additional lines to the older ones, there exists the good possibility of creating damage.

Then there is the lack of residential parking due to additional demand. Remember, many families have more than one car. Additional families mean additional garbage, and the mayor is already talking about reducing sanitation services.

That just may lead to additional neighbors, in the form of rodents. So how’s business? If you’re a builder or developer it’s quite profitable; however, if you’re a resident homeowner, there exists serious concern.

Joe Palumbo is the fund manager for The Palco Group, Inc. and can be reached at palcogroup@aol.com or 718-461-8317.

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