There was a groundbreaking ceremony last week at the Flushing Commons site that is replacing Municipal Parking Lot Number 1. Many think this new behemoth project is good for Flushing, others are skeptical or are against it all together.
Mayor Bloomberg and developers pushed hard for the project with building renditions of grandeur, and talk about how good this was for Flushing. But Downtown Flushing needs parking desperately.
The developers “cured” that problem by putting a large underground parking lot under the Commons site to hold about 1,600 vehicles. What nobody talked about is the fact that shoppers don’t like to park in big underground lots. Shoppers who drive won’t go there anymore.
The Commons underground parking lot is a nail in the coffin for drivable Flushing. No longer does it make sense to drive to downtown Flushing to shop. Why go thru the hassle and pay rates? Some European cities have fabulous underground automated parking lots that are popular and well used. Not here.
People, I for one, don’t like to park in large underground parking lots with low ceilings, cramped spaces, with a gate at the entrance and exit. Not to mention feeling safe in them. And, I certainly don’t like paying a minimum $3 for a stay that will only take me a few minutes in any parking lot.
The best use of the site would have been for a city owned 5-story parking lot similar to the one in downtown New Rochelle. There you drive in, no gates, park in a numbered spot, put your spot number in the parking machine at the mall entrance, and you pay for the amount of time you expect to use, be that 25 cents for 15 minutes or 2-3 hours at $1 per hour to go to the Imax Theatre.
When you leave you just drive out. There are no gates to stop you for a gate ticket and a credit card or cash payment. Consequently there are no lines to get out. Gated lots are nightmares. If you’ve ever gotten stuck behind somebody who can’t figure our how to use the ticket machine at the Queens Center you would appreciate this kind of easy access lot.
At least the Queens Center parking is all above ground and has a safe feel to it. But now the gates there are unmanned and you have to prepay in the mall to get out. Now you get stuck even more when people ahead of you don’t know how to pay and there is no gatekeeper there to tell them.
The loss of above-ground parking is sealing off Flushing to those who live there and nearby. I would rather drive toMacy’s in Manhasset to shop because I can park right outside the doors. Goodbye drivable Downtown Flushing. It was good to know you.