Nearly 200 people packed into Union Plaza Care Center for Community Board 7’s public hearing on Monday to track the progress of the contentious mega-project, with discussion going on until nearly 1 a.m.
“I will not allow this project to go forward with my support if we cannot protect the small business owners who will be affected,” said Councilman Peter Koo, acknowledging the necessity of the project, but expressing concern over how altering the current parking situation could hurt local business owners.
But Michael Meyer, president of TDC Construction, addressed parking concerns by pointing out that the proposal includes 1,600 parking spots for public use, nearly 500 more than are currently located on the current Muni Lot 1 site. TDC said last month that about 350 spots would be reserved for residents and businesses, but Meyer reassured residents that the spots would be unassigned and made available for public use during the day.
The 40 spots currently reserved for the 109th Precinct would be moved to a location on 37th Avenue, with DOT’s Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy proposing a plan for angled parking to minimize the number of public spots that would be taken out of use.
CB7 members questioned how developers would be able to attract people for the proposed 620 condominiums if tenants would have to pay monthly parking rates and still be required to search for spots, and asked Meyer to reconsider the plan.
He detailed the plan for Flushing Commons, breaking it down for residents who were hearing it for the first time. The $800 million project would include 1,600 public parking spaces, 620 condominiums, 142 units of affordable housing, 1.5 acres of green space for public use, and a 62,000-square-foot YMCA facility.
“Our project has benefits for the Flushing community in excess of $100 million,” said Meyer.
Several local opposition group have criticized the proposal, including The Coalition to Reconsider and Evaluate Development Opportunities at Municipal Parking Lot 1 in Downtown Flushing, or REDO.
REDO questions the method that TDC is using to calculate parking, and is also concerned the rates that will be charged will be significantly higher than they currently are now, further hurting local businesses.
REDO also criticized the size of the project, arguing that it is too big for the area. The group also says TDC has reneged on promises to include a movie theater and national chain bookstore in the project.
“REDO demands that if our public property is given to a private developer, we get the best deal possible,” concluded a report issued by the group.
Several board members are also urging the Flushing YMCA to consider selling its current property on Bowne Street and Northern Boulevard to the city for educational use, as the YMCA will be moving to a new space in Flushing Commons. P.S. 20, they pointed out, has been overcrowded for years.
CB7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said future discussions on the fate of the site would be necessary because after the Flushing YMCA vacates, it could be sold and developed into something that would negatively impact the community.
“Our concern is that we don’t want to win something and then lose something in return,” said Apelian.
CB7 will vote on the Flushing Commons project on April 5, at which point it will move to Borough President Helen Marshall’s office.