“New York City is the most exciting place on this planet,” said former Borough President Claire Shulman at the Queens College Business Forum on March 4. “The second most exciting place on this planet is Flushing,” she said half-jokingly regarding transportation oriented developments to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and a proposed pedestrian bridge from Flushing to the Willets Point redevelopment site.
She hopes to make the Flushing LIRR more accessible for the disabled while upgrading a key parking site for affordable housing.
Shulman – now the president and chief executive officer of the Flushing • Willets Point • Corona Local Development Corporation (LDC) – was joined by Kevin W. Alexander, executive director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC); Gayle Baron, executive director of the Long Island City Business Development Corporation (LICBDC); Theodore Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC); and F. Carlisle Towery, the first executive director of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC). Each panelist had plenty to say about recent and proposed developments in their sector of the borough.
Alexander explained the history of The Rockaway’s decline and current rise focused on public space projects and commercial revitalization including the restoration of O’Donohue Park, a state-of-the-art subway hub at the Far Rockaway A train station and the Arverne by the Sea project – a massive development project that has already produced the Wavecrest Gardens commercial space.
“What was once a jewel can now return to shine as bright as ever,” said Alexander to the hundred in attendance at the Queens College Student Union.
Baron – who has been president of the LICBDC since 2002 – said that Long Island City is transforming into a vibrant community that is firing on all cylinders.
“Some of the most exciting developments in years are coming to fruition,” said Baron in regards the new 21-story Gotham Center which replaces the Queen Municipal parking garage, the re-branding LIC through improvements to Queens Plaza and affordable housing in Hunter’s Point South.
Renz highlighted two major projects including a $2.4 million streetscape improvement project for Myrtle Avenue by the NYC Economic Corporation and a $55 million MTA project for the Myrtle/Wyckoff Station Complex at the Queens and Brooklyn border.
“The next stop for Myrtle Avenue is taking a look at our economic base,” said Renz.
Towery, who was instrumental in the creation of one industrial BID and three downtown commercial BIDs in Jamaica, mentioned the loss of thousands of industrial jobs but the limitless potential in the area.
“We have our work cut out for us . . . we see potential and progress,” said Towery.
Towery spoke about the development of a light-rail project connecting downtown Jamaica to JFK Airport.