By Alex Robinson
The city Department of Housing has started a public process to redevelop Flushing’s Municipal Lot 3 into affordable housing.
Housing’s targeted goal for the development is to build 100 to 250 units of affordable housing on the property, which is adjacent to Flushing’s Long Island Rail Road station on 41st Avenue.
The first of three public meetings for the project’s community visioning process took place Dec. 18 and was attended by representatives of elected officials, Housing, the City Planning Commission, the city Department of Transportation, and a number of nonprofits.
The city committed to the project Oct. 9, the same day the City Council passed the Willets Point redevelopment, according to the office of Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), who pushed for more affordable housing to be built as part of the plan to redevelop the blighted area. The city also agreed to an affordable housing development in Corona, at 54-16 101st St.
“As part of my negotiations on the Willets Point development, the city had agreed to develop new affordable housing in Corona and Flushing in addition to the affordable housing units that will be built at Willets Point,” Ferreras said in a statement.
Former Borough President Claire Shulman, who attended the community visioning meeting, said she had been advocating for this project for years.
“It’s exciting. We’re looking forward to doing it because the need is so great in Flushing where all the people who work in those shops and restaurants need some place to live. So we’re looking forward to making that project work,” she said.
Shulman said affordable housing at the Municipal Lot 3 location had not been a priority until recently as the city was waiting for the Willets Point redevelopment to be approved.
“The reason it was held off for so long was the EDC was promoting the Willets Point development and the Environmental Impact Statement prevented us from moving forward on the affordable housing,” Shulman said.
Concerns were raised at the first community visioning meeting about the 157 parking spaces currently in Municipal Lot 3, but city representatives said they would be working to ensure those spaces would be preserved, according to Ferreras’ office.
“The main things people wanted to see were more affordable housing and a community facilities space,” said Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), who had a representative attend the meeting. “There are issues that obviously need to be addressed, including replacement parking which I will make a priority.”
The community visioning process will hold two more meetings on the project — one in February and one in March — in order to put together a request for proposals, which will be put out by Housing in April.
Housing will then take about six months to select a developer. The city expects the actual construction work will take 18 to 24 months to complete.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.