Seedy Bars And Gentrification—The Opposing Forces At Work On Roosevelt Ave, Queens

With gentrification’s alienations, often there is a lessening of crime. Roosevelt Ave. is in the delicate transitional phase.

By Jeff Vasishta November 4, 2016
GK tramrunner / Wikipedia

Crime, grime and gentrification. Three words that should never be in the same sentence. Those are the opposing forces at work on Roosevelt Avenue. There, in the midst of rising home prices in Jackson Heights, Corona and Woodside, seedy bars and shady characters are sending the thoroughfare hurtling back to dark days of Times Square.

The solution, according to elected officials, is to spend cash monitoring “bad actor” bars that stay open after hours, attracting prostitution and drug use.

Related: Corona Queens Infrastructure Is Being Overburdened And Urges de Blasio To Check Development

“Roosevelt Avenue is a vibrant avenue during the day,” said state Sen. Jose Peralta. The Senator according to DNA Info, has been pushing for several years to clean up the street, including a request to have NYPD lines redrawn so the avenue was united under one precinct.

“What happens at night is that it turns into something completely different,” he said. “It’s turned into the old Times Square, where you have prostitution, where you have $2 dance bars, where you have drugs, where you have fake IDs, and that needs to end.”

In much the same way as gentrifying Crown Heights became an “Impact Zone” for heightened police activities, law enforcement have been stepping up their activities on Roosevelt Ave. During the 28-day period ending Oct. 31, police made 44 arrests along the approximately 20-block portion of the corridor that runs through Woodside, between 49th and 69th streets, according to the NYPD. Officers also handed out 21 criminal court summonses, 41 moving traffic violations and 23 parking summonses during that period, police said.

Licensing laws are at the heart of the matter, according to the police. Many of the bars operate as “dance clubs” without the correct Cabaret License to do so.

Related: Ridgewood: Leading The Queens Movement Towards Gentrification

Fueled by the ten million square feet of office space at Hudson Yards which will connect near the 7 trains West 34th St Hudson Yards station, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Corona, all on the train’s route, have seen a spike in rents. Currently a two-bedroom apartment in midtown Manhattan rents for $4,257-$4,674/month. In Sunnyside and Woodside, they rent for over $2,000 less ($2,112 – $2,287). Both are only a 15-20-minute commute via the 7 train. Thirty minute commutes are also game for price hikes on the 7 line with rents currently in Corona being under $2,000/month for a two-bedroom apartment.

“It’s the chase for affordable rent,” Daniel Wechsler, a vice president at Ariel Property Advisors told the NY Observer. “The further east you go the cheaper it gets. People will ask, ‘can I tack on another five minutes to my commute, another ten minutes to my commute?’ These neighborhoods are going to become more attractive to people.” shows a few new construction projects underway on Roosevelt Avenue:

 A seven-story 10-unit mixed-use building was filed last January beneath the 69th  Street stop on the 7 train. The building will consist of residential and retail space. New Hyde Park based Lily Chen is the developer and Flushing-based Li Architect Associate is the architect. A similarly-sized building is planned on the adjacent lot at 65-27 Roosevelt Avenue.

A two-story, 4,000-square-foot retail building was filed at 1010-01 Roosevelt Ave, North Corona in January 2016. The permit calls for six retail units and a roof terrace. Queens based property owner, David Mehrara doing business as an anonymous LLC is the developer and Astoria, Queens based architect DJL Architect has drawn up plans.


Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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