From the Daily News:
The $800 million plan for a complex of condos, shops and a YMCA set to be built atop a municipal parking lot got a thumbs up on April 5 from Community Board 7.
But area business owners aren't raising the white flag just yet in their fight against the controversial project.
"Every week goes by and I hear the developer talk about this great place, but they're killing us little by little," said Ikhwan Rim, a jewelry store owner and president of the Union St. Merchants Association. "I feel very hopeless because nobody is helping us."
Members of the merchants group have turned to Jim Gerson, chairman of the Flushing Business Improvement District. Gerson has hired the Parkside Group to lobby for area businesses.
"I thought that the merchants of Flushing should have a voice," said Gerson, who hired Parkside through his real estate company, Gerson Properties, rather than through the BID, which is prohibited from lobbying activities.
Rim said he and his fellow merchants are chipping in donations to Gerson. "We have a common goal," he said.
That goal includes securing funding for merchants during construction. The city Economic Development Corp. has allocated $2million for a business assistance program and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) is ironing out its details.
From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:
Our own take is that the Parksiders will sit this one out-and given their propinquity to the powers that be in Queens, this is probably a good thing. Taking on the battle against this over development-one that involves a breach of faith by the city and EDC over the original agreement with former council member (and now comptroller) John Liu-will involve bumping ugly with some powerful development proponents; and Parkside's skillful insider status would prove to be as much of a potential drawback as it would be an asset.
Gee, isn't this project being built on land that is currently publicly owned? And isn't the sale price below market rate-an indication of a level of public subsidy? Ipso facto, shouldn't the slated 250,000 sq. ft. of retail space be subject to the same living wage requirement that the folks up at the Kingsbridge Armory insisted on? Hmm.
In addition, the way in which this development is being structured, it could well prove to be a knife in the heart to the area's vibrant, but struggling, small businesses. Why? Because as planner Paul Graziano has pointed out, "The developer will introduce a ‘validation’ system – under which local businesses will likely be forced to pay for at least part of their patrons’ parking fees or lose business to other business areas."
And the parking provided-lower than the number agreed to by Liu-is inadequate for the amount of traffic that Flushing Commons will generate in the already gridlocked downtown. As Garaziano goes on to explain in his fact sheet on the project: "Loss of adequate, competitively-priced parking will very likely lead to serious job losses and small-business closings in Downtown Flushing.
• A ‘validation’ system will amount to a new tax imposed on small business in Flushing, as they will be compelled to subsidize customer/client parking to remain competitive.
• After the sale, as things stand now the developer will legally be entitled to deny parking to local businesses in favor of his own tenants, or charge non-tenants higher rates."
Well I don't know about Parkside, but today at 10:30am is the Borough Board meeting. Should be a fun time for all.