From the NY Times:
To the city, the lot is one part piggy bank, one part branding opportunity. Selling it could yield much-needed money at a time of belt-tightening and give the Bloomberg administration a chance to replicate its development model deep into the boroughs outside Manhattan — a mix of homes, offices and retail space that is ambitious in appearance and size.
Developers see an opportunity to cash in on a thriving area already bursting at the seams. Outside Times Square, according to city transportation officials, Flushing is home to the city’s busiest transportation hub and intersection, Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, about two blocks from the parking lot.
A builder from Manhattan and another from Flushing, whom the city chose in 2005, have pledged to spend $850 million on 600 new housing units, 420,000 square feet of commercial space, a Yand a park on the five-acre lot.
As with any other large project, opponents quickly rose up to criticize the scope of the plan. But the project, named Flushing Commons, has also revealed deeper tensions in the overwhelmingly Asian neighborhood, divisions that cut largely across country lines.
On one side are Chinese immigrants whose businesses lie largely out of sight of the planned construction zone and who have lined up behind the local developer, a compatriot named Michael Lee, of the TDC Development and Construction Corporation. On the other side are Korean immigrants whose stores are clustered around the lot, bordered by Union Street, 138th Street and 37th and 39th Avenues.
On a radio talk show he produces that airs on WWRU (1660 AM), a Korean-language station that reaches New York and surrounding states, Terry Huangpo has devoted several segments to Flushing Commons, inviting listeners to share their concerns. It was not the project itself that business owners were worried about, but where customers would park while it was being built.
“Flushing town is very good place for Korea business,” he said in halting English on a recent Thursday. “But after construction, it’s going to be a Chinatown. Korea stores cannot survive construction.”
A City Council subcommittee is scheduled to vote on the project at a public hearing on Thursday and the full Council is expected to do so by the end of the month. It will be the first time the Council will vote on a development since it dealt Mr. Bloomberg a resounding defeat in February, when it rejected a plan to convert the former Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a mall.