Concerns Over Flushing Parking Lot Development

Municipal Parking Lot One, a highly coveted downtown Flushing property, is once again up for grabs.
For years, builders have expressed interest in developing the site and then balked because the building space was not enough to make a return. The citys Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is again looking for bidders, but Flushing politicians and community leaders dont like the city agencys terms.
Raising concerns about parking space and the amount of building space at the lot, on Wednesday, Councilman John Liu, State Senator Tony Stavisky and members of Community Board 7 and local business associations toured the site for which EDC is currently accepting Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to develop as a mixed-use facility.
"The diminution of parking is just not acceptable," said Stavisky, wary of EDCs RFP guidelines, which permit the minimum number of parking spaces at the lot to drop by almost 300.
The group stated that parking was already a problem and a new mixed-use facility with shopping would only make demand swell. The minimum amount of parking spaces in the new development, they said, must, in the least, remain at the current number.
Right now, the lot holds 1,100 parking spaces, but EDC guidelines only stipulate a minimum of 825.
The group also voiced concern that EDC is trying to affect the size of the development. Under the areas zoning rules, a developer can build 1 million square feet of building space on the five-acre lot. But, said the group, EDC is encouraging bidders to propose developments with as much as 1.4 million square feet of building space a 40% increase.
Moreover, said Charles Apelian, chair of Community Board 7s land use committee, most of the increase would be to the community facility section of the development, which requires no parking spaces.In total, he said, EDCs guidelines for bidders would allow 750,000 square feet of building with no parking.
"It should be left to the local officials and community board," said Liu. "It is not something that companies coming in bidding on this proposal should take for granted."
When asked about the decrease in spaces, EDC said that RFPs will be required to provide a parking management plan.
"They have to provide a parking plan that shows how they will cope with parking demand," said the agencys spokesperson Janelle Patterson.
She noted that although the minimum number had dropped, 100 long-term parking spots would be converted to short-term parking space. Patterson said EDC has plans to address the long-term parking loss by shifting these spots closer to Shea Stadium.
Many commuters fill the long-term parking spots in Municipal Lot One because it is close to the Flushing transit hub, a confluence of buses, the No. 7 subway line and the LIRR. However, Liu said employees of downtown Flushing businesses also use the spots. He said a shift to Shea Stadium would inconvenience them and make getting to work difficult.
In regard to the developments size, Patterson said EDC does not determine building space. She said proposals would have to be approved by City Planning or the Board of Standards and Appeals.
In February, EDC began taking RFPs to turn Municipal Lot One, which is bounded by 37th Avenue, 39th Avenue, Union Street, and 138th Street, into a town square with retail shopping, a residential community and competitively priced parking. RFPs are due by April 12.

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