Preliminary plans are coming together to revitalize 60 acres in downtown Flushing near the Flushing River.
That was the report given Thursday at Flushing Town Hall by consultants and officials with the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp. The location is from Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue and Prince Street to the Flushing River.
Claire Shulman, who heads the LDC, assured attendants that there are no plans for eminent domain or any type of land grab. “The properties are privately owned and we are working with the owners to come up with a cohesive plan for the future of the area,” Shulman said.
Nick Roberts, project manager, explained that the waterfront area has “enormous untapped potential, saying, “Planners want community access to the river and a mixed use of buildings to complement the rest of downtown.”
In 2009, the LDC received a $1.5 million state Brownfield grant for a planning program covering the downtown waterfront area. The site under scrutiny includes 32 potential contaminated locations that are described by the state as underutilized properties, but not all will need remediation.
There are only two active businesses along the waterfront, the U-Haul building and a Korean supermarket. Most of the other sites are vacant.
Part of the area around Prince Street is zoned manufacturing, while the rest of the area is C4-2. The hope is to upzone to C4-4, which allows for mixed use but primarily is not as stringent about parking requirements.
Some of the suggestions for development include adding a pedestrian connector to Willets Point, which would open the river to the west, creating open spaces without walling off the water.
A 135-foot-wide corridor would allow pedestrians to walk along the river and prevent any future buildings from being on top of the river. Planners called it “a bucolic waterfront with soft edges.”
Suggested uses for the buildings are residential, retail, restaurants, entertainment, offices and a hotel. But that could be five to 10 years down the road, according to the consultants.
Shulman stressed that she hopes affordable and senior housing will be in the mix. “We are meeting with landowners, but it is up to them to decide what they want to do with their properties,” she said.