I was the first Chair of the Flushing BID upon its formation in 2004. I was born in Elmhurst and lived there for 14 years. Through three generations and for over 50 years my family has owned a building in downtown Flushing. I care deeply about Flushing, and have come to understand its needs-particularly of its small business community. Therefore, I take my responsibility to the merchants and property owners of Flushing very seriously.
The BID faced its first serious and controversial issue when confronted with the impact of the construction of Flushing Commons. My approach was to offer three resolutions which were approved by the BID Board of Directors.
The first resolution called for a business assistance program based on an analysis of the impacts of construction. The second called for restoration of the City’s previously agreed parking capacity and rate cap. The third resolution called for a contingency plan for completion of the project before the land was transferred.
Since that time the developer has lobbied extensively to emasculate these objectives with City agencies and Board members. The result has been that a previously harmonious board became highly factionalized and dysfunctional. One direct impact was the resignation of our highly competent and well liked executive director who supported these objectives but was becoming increasingly marginalized as a result.
The precipitating event for my resignation as Chairman of the BID was the Board’s decision last week to turn down my proposal for an independent analysis of the economic impact of construction on area merchants; and rely instead on the highly questionable representations of the staff of council member Koo that such a study could be conducted by either his office or by EDC.
At that point it became clear to me that I could be more candid and more effective advancing what I believe in, by working with other community groups outside of the confines of the BID. I have no confidence that a study conducted by the same people who are proposing and/or supporting the current unrealistic plans will be either fair or helpful.
I believe the impact of Flushing Commons as presently proposed will be devastating to local businesses especially during the evening hours. Just as in most other metropolitan areas or neighborhoods, there is a core focus which draws people and supports the non-core businesses. In the case of Flushing I believe the core is the quantity and variety of reasonably priced ethnic food (not unlike other "Chinatowns" around the world). These restaurants depend heavily on affordable parking. Affordable parking is the most important key to keeping Flushing vibrant.
During the day Flushing will lose their customers in one of two ways. Gridlock will frustrate some. Others will go to shop in nearby malls or other areas where parking is free. Flushing Commons, as now conceived by TDC, is as unsustainable a project as anyone could imagine. It needs to be thoroughly altered so that the interests of the small businesses of Flushing and its neighboring communities are maintained.
You can read an analysis of this event here.