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Queens Chronicle

Flushing project is a no go for now

Despite reports, mixed-use plans for Parking Lot 1 are still on hold

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:11 am, Thu Nov 7, 2013.

Developers of the $850 million Flushing Commons mixed-use development project are calling reports that work will begin this week premature. It’s actually set to start early next year.

Last week, Crain’s and other business publications announced that the project, which has been delayed three years due to lack of financing, would begin on Thursday, Oct. 31. The date was allegedly the latest allowed by the city’s Economic Development Corp. for the developers, TDC Development and Construction Corp. and Rockefeller Group Development Corp. to begin.

The five-acre project will be built on Municipal Parking Lot 1 and will be divided into two phases so as not to disrupt parking during the conversion. The location is bounded by Union and 138th streets and 37th and 39th avenues.

The business publications pointed to a demolition application filed by the developers with the Department of Buildings to begin work. But Rockefeller spokesman Dwayne Doherty told the Queens Chronicle on Monday that there had been no change in construction plans that were announced last March. The press release referred to a fall start, but EDC officials said Tuesday that the agency is set to close with the developer at the end of the year and the project to start soon after.

Both the EDC and Doherty said it’s an ongoing work in progress and the Oct. 31 date no longer is relevant.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) read the Crain’s report and said he is worried about parking during construction and wrote to the EDC seeking answers. Avella told the Chronicle that reducing parking spaces will add to congestion in downtown Flushing and that the EDC has a record of not paying attention to local community issues. “I’m extremely concerned,” he said.

Doherty, however, pointed to the March plans that will maintain 1,100 spaces of existing parking on the site during construction. By erecting the project in two phases, the developers say that will allow the spots to be maintained on the north side of the site.

It is expected an underground garage will be built to handle spaces lost during construction. When the entire project is finished, an additional 500 parking spots will be added for a total of 1,600.

Phase 1 work includes 160 residential units; 350,000 square feet of commercial space, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA with two pools, a gymnasium and indoor running track; and 1.5 acres of open space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

Phase 2 work will add 450 residential units, 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 square feet of community space.

Community Board 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman said her office has received no word from the developer since the project was approved in 2010. “We would like to know what is going on. They have not been good neighbors,” Bitterman added.

The remaining piece of the parking lot is being developed by the Macedonia AME Church, which is building a 14-story, 142-unit affordable housing structure adjacent to the church. It is expected to be completed next March.

Alessandra Malito contributed to this story.

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