Monday, July 7, 2014

After Years of Delays Flushing Commons Officially Breaks Ground

This past week, officials broke ground on Phase 1 of the massive Flushing Commons project. The nearly $900 million commercial and residential development is being constructed on the former Municipal Parking Lot #1, at 39th Avenue and 138th Street in downtown Flushing, and will include a new YMCA and a town square.
Monday marked the official groundbreaking for Flushing Commons, a massive mix of housing, commercial and community space being built to the tune of nearly $1 billion on the sprawling five-acre former municipal parking lot.

The first phase, to be complete by 2017 includes 150 apartments, 220,000 square feet of commercial space, a YMCA, a one-acre public square and a 1,000-space underground parking garage.

The 1.8 million-square-foot space also includes that will bring much-needed green space to the congested area.

“It’s hard to overestimate how transformational this will be for Flushing,” said Michael Meyer of F&T Group, which is developing the site with the Rockefeller Group Development Corp., and AECOM Capital.

“This site is really the 57th St. and Fifth Ave. of Queens,” he said. “It is one block from the 7 train and all the bus routes.”

The second phase will include another 450 apartments, as well as a YMCA, a 1.5-acre open space, and an additional 130,000 square feet of commercial space with parking for 600 more vehicles. The entire project is expected to be complete by 2020.

Despite such rosy projections, the project took years to launch. It’s been almost 10 years since the city announced it would sell the large municipal parking lot to developers.

The ambitious plan to transform the 5-acre municipal parking lot into Flushing Commons was stalled several times as community leaders and elected officials squabbled with the city and developers over parking and other concerns.

It was revived in 2010 and successfully navigated the city’s land use approval process.

The project, first announced over 10 years ago, is heralded by supporters including City Councilman Peter Koo as the key to revitalizing downtown Flushing.

But others, including some local merchants, worry construction will add to current traffic woes and push out small businesses.

The city spent a decade eyeing the potential development of Flushing’s 5-acre Municipal Lot 1, bounded by Union Street, 39th Avenue, 138th Street and 37th Avenue.

For the past two years, Flushing has waited with bated breath — and a slight dose of skepticism — for the proposed transformation of Municipal Lot 1 to actually occur.

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