A series of meetings regarding the redevelopment of Municipal One lot in Downtown Flushing continued last Wednesday night at Union Plaza Care Center. The meetings are part of a lengthy discussion regarding the future of the lot and Flushing Commons, which if built will transform the five-acre parking lot into a mixed-use space consisting of housing, retail and office space, a hotel, and community space, including a new YMCA.
Mike Myer, president of TDC Construction, which is partnering with the Rockefeller Group on the project, presented to Community Board 7 members with his company’s plans regarding traffic and parking in the Flushing Commons area, as well as the parking that would be available both during construction and after its completion.
Community board members were able to present their questions and concerns to the team of traffic experts that Myer brought with him.
“I’m just happy with the dialogue and that we are moving in the right direction,” community board vice president Chuck Apelian said. “I won’t say that I was happy with everything they said tonight, but it’s all a process.”
TDC’s initial plan calls for 500 more parking spaces than currently available in Muni Lot 1, which is used by both commuters and shoppers in Downtown Flushing, bringing the total number of spaces in Flushing Commons to about 1,600.
However, some of those spots – TDC estimates 350, but that number isn't firm – will be reserved for the residents and businesses in Flushing Commons. Likewise, the cost to park in the lot will increase, although it is also unclear by how much.
Myer also proposed moving what he called “long-term parkers,” or people who park in the lot all day, to lots near Citi Field. This would open up a significant amount of room for shoppers and business customers, he said.
Myer stressed, however, that he believed the amount of parking spots available isn’t the issue, but rather traffic. He said that traffic around Flushing Commons should be the main concern as the addition of “10,000 spaces” wouldn’t be enough to relieve the congestion.
Myer believes the city and local residents need to evolve and realize that the area has become a vibrant urban center similar to Manhattan. His philosophy centers on the idea of Flushing Commons as a central transit hub, with the expectation that people will prefer using mass transit over driving to the neighborhood.
Community board members disagreed with Myer’s opinion.
“What you think will happen is all well and good, but look at reality,” board member Kim O'Hanion said. “This is Queens and you will never be able to turn it into Manhattan. People here relish the fact they can get in their cars and go where they want to go.”
On January 25, the city officially began the approximately seven-month public review process for Flushing Commons. After the community board issues its recommendation, the proposal will go before the borough president, City Planning Commission, and the City Council, which will actually make the final decision on the plan.