For the past two years, Flushing has waited with bated breath — and a slight dose of skepticism — for the proposed transformation of Municipal Lot 1 to actually occur. But work on Flushing Commons will finally start in November, now that the $850 million mixed-use development has been broken up into phases.
Originally approved in August 2010, Flushing Commons broadly includes residential uses, commercial space and community areas.
The project’s new segmented approach will minimize the impact of displaced cars that would otherwise be roaming downtown Flushing had the project been built all at once, according to Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development and Construction Corp., one half of the development group taking on the project along with The Rockefeller Group.
“So much of our heat in the community came from the disruption from the parking,” Meyer said. “We figured out a way to build it in phases so we can keep the parking on-site.”
The first phase of Flushing Commons will include 160 units of housing, 350,000 square feet of commercial use, a new YMCA and 1.5 acres of open space, including a fountain and amphitheater. It will also include underground parking on the northern side, slated to replace current spots at the Muni Lot lost to the development.
“Obviously, it’s less disruptive to parkers and shoppers,” Meyer said. “There will be less construction and less traffic in the community from the displaced cars.”
The second phase will build out the remainder of the planned development, including 450 residential units, 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 square feet of community space.
The city spent a decade eyeing the potential development of Flushing’s 5-acre Municipal Lot 1, bounded by Union Street, 39th Avenue, 138th Street and 37th Avenue.
The deal for the redevelopment included a $2.25 million Flushing Small Business Assistance plan, which will be coordinated by a still-unnamed contractor to be selected by the city and will not be affected by the segmenting of Flushing Commons.
Funding was tough to come by for the developer, as it has been for most consumers and private citizens.
“Nobody was getting the financing the last couple of years,” Meyer said. “What’s been getting financed the last couple of years was affordable housing. But not the type of development we were doing on the original plan. We were just part of the same market trend.”
Meyer said the dual-phasing of the project will prolong the timeline for Flushing Commons’ completion. He anticipated phase one lasting less than four years, but would not estimate when all work is expected to finish.