QUEENS CRAP ROVING REPORTER -- DATELINE: MARCH 4, 2010
MUNICIPAL PARKING LOT #1/ FLUSHING COMMONS MEETING OF CB7, TAKE 2
The CB7 committee on TDC/ Rockefeller Group’s proposed development met again on Thursday, March 4th. These meetings are open to the public, but only committee members may speak. The focus for the session was Flushing Common’s basic design, and the construction logistics.
But the hot issue of the night was parking and fees. During construction the alternative spots are too few and too far away for shoppers. Local merchants will be screwed. After, there will be only 1,600 spaces for Common tenants, Macedonia AME tenants, Common retail & commercial employees, and all other Flushing visitors. The original RFP stipulated that parking fees would be capped in perpetuity, with only COLA increases. Now it’s just a 5 year cap, and then “under market rates.” The developer is deciding the number of spaces and the rates. Some committee members seemed ticked off.
Privately, people also pointed out that the property was originally obtained thru eminent domain for a public good; now it will be sold off to a politically favored developer for private use and profit, and none of the monies received will go to Flushing. Is Bloomberg once again abusing eminent domain, this time in a whole new way?
Your reporter was told that for 2 years the info flow from TDC/ Rockefeller to CB7 has been a frustrating trickle. Members were miffed. The word of the night was “transparency.”
TDC/Rockefeller’s dog-&-pony-show continued as Michael Meyer gave a slide show of pretty views of the development, as well as elevations and through-sections that clearly demonstrated the massive scale and density of the project. On the 2 block space currently occupied by the municipal parking lot there will be 5 buildings with 273,000 square feet.
But-- there will be one whole acre of green space, and another half acre of “open space” (in other words, pathways and alleys). Oh, and the buildings will be called Ash (16 stories ), Beech (17 stories), Cherry (17 stories), Dogwood (14 stories), and Elm (5 stories). Very green.
Building exteriors are extremely banal 1960’s without being retro.
The Flushing YMCA will move into Cherry. What WILL NOT be found at the Commons is the multi-plex movie theatre called for in the RFP. Meyer said that after accommodating all the needs of the YMCA, they couldn’t also accommodate those of national theatre chains. Apparently, small, local chains that might not demand stadium seating or 12 screens, were not contacted.
No book store, either. They said they have been in discussions with Barnes & Noble, but B&N doesn’t like the space options. No other book stores were mentioned as being approached.
Don’t forget that Macedonia AME Church will be building a 14 story affordable housing unit at the corner of Union Street and 37th Avenue.
It is expected that 37th Avenue will get (1) angled parking for forty 109th Precinct cars, and (2) truck access to the Commons. Plus-- during the building period, that is where the crane for the church’s project might sit (amidst the 109th cars?). The Macedonia project’s building schedule will overlap the Commons. Stay tuned for further details.
TDC/Rock said actual construction process will take only 36 months, with no blasting and no closed street. They claim to have a noise mitigation plan, and clean, green equipment, fuel and construction processes. The entire below-grade structure will be built at once, and-- wait for it!-- we’ll get artwork on the construction fences.
CB7 members had plenty of questions and pointed remarks:
1- what about the impact of this project on water usage and sewers?
2- what about the impact of this project, plus the Muss project, on schools already bursting? Between them 2,000 more students are expected;
3- other than not providing enough parking for all residents, what is so transit-friendly about the design? (They will be providing 600 bike “parking” spots throught the Common, but not investing in the Main Street station);
4- have there been discussions with the precinct/ Police Dept., which will lose much more than 40 spaces, and have they been at the policy-making level?
5- if the requirements of the YMCA precluded the much-desired movie theatre, then what is the Y giving to the community as redress?
6- what happens to the current Y property (which was purchased way back when through public subscription)? Will it be sold off? Can it become part of Flushing High (or a successor?) Or house a separate school? There must be some benefit to Flushing out of it.
7- will there be monitoring of the church to ensure no structural harm comes to it from Common’s construction?
8- since public property is being privatized, and Flushing will experience the impact, why is not one penny of the purchase monies going to Flushing? The CNY general budget gets it all.
9- so where are the workers going to park?
10- why was it decided to go for a higher density AND less parking? Why did the City change the zoning?
11- what if the developer or the bank defaulted? Could NYC get the property back?
And note this: the public hearing, the one where the public CAN speak, is scheduled for March 22 (at the Union Nursing Home). It is the ONLY opportunity the public will have to discuss the proposed development and loss of public property. The only one.