Just when it looked like Flushing had no other land to develop, the city is pursuing a project that will add up to 100 units of affordable housing at Municipal Parking Lot 3.
The 157-space parking lot is located on 41st Avenue and abuts the Long Island Rail Road station. The federal program that would make the housing project feasible is tied in with updating the LIRR station, according to Claire Shulman, who is spearheading the plan.
The number of public parking spaces will be retained and Shulman hopes architects will find a way to add even more.
The former borough president, who heads the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corp., said the city is committed to the project. She is working with the city Departments of Transportation and Housing Preservation and Development and the MTA to move it forward.
Shulman said HPD is the lead agency and working out the numbers now. She expects the project will have 80 to 100 units, with some set aside for seniors and will be several stories high, “but not huge.”
Eric Bederman, spokesman for HPD, said on Tuesday that the project is still in the exploratory stage.
As part of the plan, the LIRR will make improvements by adding two elevators on both sides of the track soon and “hopefully add a station on the platform level, instead of just a ticket booth,” she said.
Shulman called it “a great project,” but acknowledged there is no timetable for implementation, saying “I hope to see it in my lifetime.”
Aside from helping to fill the need for affordable housing, the project is aimed at relieving overcrowding on the No. 7 subway line by making the LIRR more attractive. “This plan will make the railroad more accessible and more agreeable to the public,” Shulman said.
Community leaders, commuters and merchants have been asking for improvements to the LIRR station for years. Since Flushing is a major transportation hub, they say it makes sense to make the station more user-friendly.
Meanwhile, the public review process for the $800 million Flushing Commons project at Municipal Parking Lot 1 is underway. It is located between Union and 138th streets and 37th and 39th avenues. The mixed-use plan will include underground parking for 1,100 cars. If all goes as planned, work will begin next year with a completion date expected in 2013.
The city and the developer have not yet announced interim parking plans during construction.