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Queens Chronicle

A bright future is portrayed for Queens

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Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:39 pm, Wed Mar 16, 2011.

   Panelists Kevin Alexander, left, of the Rockaway Revitalization and Development Corp.; Gayle Baron, of the Long Island City Business Development Corp.; Ted Renz, of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp. and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District; Claire Shulman, of the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corp.; and Carlisle Towery, of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. at a Queens College breakfast forum.


   Civic and business leaders, joined by several local elected officials got updates about five developments around the borough at a business breakfast forum hosted by Queens College last Friday.

   A crowd of about 100 attended the forum, themed “Looking Toward the Future” in the ballroom of the Student Union building on the Flushing campus.

   The event was moderated by Diane Coogan-Pushner, associate dean of Social Services at the college, and after welcoming remarks and acknowledgements by President James Muyskens, she introduced the speakers.

   Kevin Alexander, executive director of the Rockaway Revitalization and Development Corp. led the forum with a slide presentation. He focused on the revitalization of the Far Rockaway business district, which is anchored by the revitalization of the Mott Avenue A-Train station.

   He also pointed to private development as partners in community development, notably Arverne by the Sea and Wavecrest Gardens, with 255 of its 2,300 residences completed and a 20,000-square-foot commercial development planned.

   Gayle Baron, president of the Long Island City Business Development Corp. outlined the ongoing evolution of the riverfront neighborhood from a primarily industrial to a mixed-use area with residential, industrial and commercial districts.

   She pointed to 4,800 residential units recently completed or under construction and the planned 5,000-unit Hunters Point South project, “the largest middle-income housing development in New York City in a generation.”

   Baron also noted the 16 hotels open or nearing completion in the area, saying that they help attract tourists by providing economical lodgings for tourists and leaving them more money for shopping and entertainment.

   She also outlined the rebirth of Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue as “the Gateway to Queens,” including new construction, and streetscape improvements, as well as painting of bridge and transit superstructures.

   Ted Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp. and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, gave a presentation lauding his misunderstood neighborhood, noting, “A lot of people ask me, ‘You’re in Brooklyn, right?’”

   He reminded the audience that Ridgewood holds a position of prominence in the Federal Register of Historic Places, and outlined progress in revitalizing commercial arteries, housing stock and landmarking of historically significant architecture that dots the largely residential neighborhood.

   Claire Shulman, CEO of the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corp. reminded the attendees that the Willets Point project had moved forward to the point where her organization was more closely focusing on the east side of Flushing Bay, notably the development of the Flushing Creek waterfront.

   She noted that as the Skyview Parc mixed-use project nears completion on College Point Boulevard, the time was ripe for improvement all along Flushing’s western limits. Shulman outlined her group’s vision of a pedestrian bridge over the creek as a key component of revitalizing the waterfront.

   Shulman also said the combined projects of the nearly $1 billion Flushing Commons development were moving forward and expressed high anticipation for the proposal coming from the new owner of the long-dormant RKO Keith’s Theatre site at Northern Boulevard and Main Street.

   Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., outlined his 40-year tenure over “a 10- year project” that witnessed the rise of York College, the dismantling of the Jamaica El, the revitalization of the Jamaica Avenue commercial strip involving landmarking of significant buildings and the development of the transit hub including the AirTrain to JFK Airport.

   He said that his group is focused on amassing the land necessary for major development of a commercial area along Sutphin Boulevard, near the Archer Avenue transit hub.

   The presentations were so well-received that the question-and-answer session was limited to a call for more recreational facilities by Shawn Slevin, chairman of the Swim Strong Foundation.

   Following Coogan-Pushner’s closing remarks, numerous attendees lingered, talking with panelists and networking. “It was a great success,” she said.

Welcome to the discussion.