Tuesday, February 5, 2013
So what's up with Flushing Commons?
In 2005, Flushing-based TDC Development, backed by the blue-chip Rockefeller Group, won the rights to knock down a five-acre city-owned parking lot on the edge of downtown and build 600 apartments, plus 420,000 square feet of retail and office space. For good measure, the developer would throw in a 62,000-square-foot YMCA, 36,000 square feet of community space and 1,600 parking spaces.
First to hold up the project was Comptroller John Liu, then the local councilman. He threatened to oppose the plan until developers added more parking. Not until 2010 did Flushing Commons finally win needed City Council approval.
Having cleared that crucial hurdle, Flushing Commons still has gone nowhere. TDC's website still projects a completion date of 2013 or 2014, but that is highly unlikely given that construction is expected to take more than three years.
Even worse, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp., which is selling the lot to the developers, said that TDC has yet to raise enough money to buy the land from the city.
The most recent public update about the project came in July, when TDC Development President Michael Meyer said that traditional funding had dried up and that he was trying to secure loans from Chinese businesses in what is the city's largest Chinese neighborhood.
He and TDC Chief Executive Michael Lee, a native of Taiwan, are also seeking to tap into the federal EB-5 program, which provides a path to green cards for foreigners in exchange for investments of $500,000 or more in development projects.
A spokesman for the EDC declined to say how much funding the developers had raised, but noted that under the original contract they are required to come up with the cash by "this fall," and must begin construction by year's end.