There was a groundbreaking ceremony at the Flushing Commons site that is replacing Parking Lot 1 last week. Many think this new behemoth project is good for Flushing, others are skeptical or against it altogether. Mayor Bloomberg and developers pushed hard for it with building renditions of grandeur and talked about how good this was for Flushing. Downtown Flushing needs parking desperately. The developers “cured” that problem by putting a large underground parking lot under the Commons site to hold about 1,600 vehicles. What nobody talked about is the fact that shoppers don’t like to park in big underground lots. Shoppers who drive won’t go there anymore.
The Commons underground parking lot is a nail in the coffin for drivable Flushing. No longer does it make sense to drive to downtown Flushing to shop. Some European cities have fabulous underground automated parking lots that are popular and well-used. Not here. People, I for one, don’t like to park in large underground parking lots with low ceilings, cramped spaces, with a gate at the entrance and exit. Not to mention feeling safe in them. And, I certainly don’t like paying a minimum three bucks for a stay that will only last a few minutes.
The best use of the site would have been for a city-owned five-story parking lot similar to the one in downtown New Rochelle. There you drive in, no gates, park in a numbered spot, put your spot number in the parking machine at the mall entrance, and you pay for the amount of time you expect to use, be that 25 cents for 15 minutes, or two to three hours at $1 per hour to go to the Imax Theatre. When you leave you just drive out. There are no lines. Gated lots are nightmares. If you’ve ever gotten stuck behind somebody who can’t figure our how to use the ticket machine at the Queens Center mall, you would appreciate this kind of easy-access lot.
The loss of above-ground parking is sealing off Flushing to those who live there and nearby. I would rather drive to Macy’s in Manhasset to shop because I can park right outside the doors. Goodbye, drivable Downtown Flushing. It was good to know you.