FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2010
MARSHALL APPROVES FLUSHING COMMONS MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT FOR DOWNTOWN FLUSHING
4/28/2010 - Queens Borough President Helen Marshall announced, Wednesday, April 28th that she has approved the $800 million Flushing Commons project that will be built on five acres in the heart of downtown Flushing. The project will transform a municipal parking lot and the surrounding area into a mixed use development that will bring new housing, retail and commercial space, a new and expanded YMCA facility and generate 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent ones.
The Flushing Commons development calls for 620 market rate residential units, up to 275,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, some 234,000 square feet for commercial use or hotel rooms and a new community facility that will include a new YMCA with two swimming pools.
The construction will take place on Municipal Lot 1, bounded by Union Street, 39th Avenue, 138th Street and 37th Avenue.
Marshall’s approval followed a public hearing on the proposed plan at Borough Hall on April 20th. Some 15 speakers testified in favor of the plan and 13 opposed it.
In her recommendation to the City Planning Commission, Marshall said that small businesses must be protected during the proposed construction and that she and City Councilmember Peter Koo will co-chair a Downtown Flushing Task Force during and after construction “The meetings of the task force will provide a forum for updates from relevant agencies on traffic related issues in the area and to work out solutions to traffic issues that may arise,” said Marshall.
In a statement released following Borough President Marshall’s approval, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the action “… shows growing momentum for the transformation of a five-acre parking lot into a vibrant urban center for downtown Flushing that will offer new housing and retail options, hotel or office space, and more parking.”
The development plan calls for 1,600 below-grade parking spaces in a garage that would replace the existing 1,101 municipal parking lot. The project also includes a 1.5-acre publicly accessible open space area available for public events and use as a town square with seating.
In a related action, approximately 30,000 square feet will be turned over by the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to the Macedonia AME Church to create a development site of more than 41,000 square feet. Macedonia Plaza is a proposed 14-story, mixed use development that would include 140 affordable housing units, 5,800 square feet for community facility space for a daycare center and 7,200 square feet of new retail space.
Marshall, who noted that nearby Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street, has been identified as the third busiest intersection in New York City (after Times Square and Herald Square), said that the City Department of Transportation, which has studied traffic patterns and improvements in Flushing for years, will implement a modified, two-way pedestrian and traffic improvement program this July on a six-month trial basis to address longstanding traffic and pedestrian safety issues.
The existing municipal parking lot on the site will be closed and subsequently demolished when construction begins. To accommodate short-term parking during construction, the proposed project includes an interim plan for public parking facilities on three nearby sites that will provide 1,144 spaces. Another 647 spaces will be provided at three interim-parking sites owned by the developer at the Flushing Mall north and south of 37th Avenue between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard; a four-acre site at College Point Boulevard between 39th and 37th Avenues will provide 309 spaces and the existing Municipal Lot 2, located on Prince Street between 38th and 39th Avenues, will provide275 spaces – an increase from the existing 87 spaces. Long term parking at Flushing Lot 1 will be moved permanently to the Citi Field parking lot. A parking validation program will also be available to all neighborhood merchants and businesses.
Monthly meetings will take place with Marshall’s office, Councilman Koo and Community Board 7 before and during construction, and the City will work with Marshall, Koo and the local community board on the implementation of a small business assistance plan.
Community Board 7 approved the plan with conditions by a vote of 36-0 with one abstention at its April 5th meeting. Among the conditions was the stipulation that proceeds of the purchase price from Municipal Lot 1 be reinvested into capital improvements and programs for downtown Flushing, including the extension to the mezzanine corridor from the Main Street subway station.
Among other things, Marshall’s conditional approval states that she, together with Councilman Koo will co-chair the Downtown Flushing Traffic Task Force, which will be comprised of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Community Board 7, the transportation, police and fire departments, the MTA, Flushing Commons and Macedonia Plaza projects, the Flushing BID, community and business owners. The Task Force will conduct monthly meetings before, during and after construction. Marshall also said that developers should make an ongoing outreach effort to inform and promote opportunities available to the community and local minority and women-owned business firms to provide goods and services for the project.
Marshall also will work with Councilman Koo and the City’s Small Business Administration to develop a Business Interruption Plan for the most effective uses of the $2 million business assistance fund that will be established to help small businesses affected during construction of the proposed project.
Marshall also stipulated that parking rates for Flushing Commons should be maintained below-market rate close to municipal rates beyond a five-year cap. “Public parking must be affordable to sustain and support the existing local small businesses which have invested heavily in their trust of the future economic health of downtown Flushing.
Traffic Enforcement Agents, Marshall said, should be posted all-year-round on a permanent basis at the Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street intersection during peak rush hours Monday through Friday and during the Saturday and Sunday peak hours identified in the Environmental Impact Statement to keep traffic flowing in an orderly manner.
And, she added, new retail and commercial uses, such as a national book chain, should complement, not duplicate, existing businesses in downtown Flushing.