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Developers find funds for Flushing Commons

By Alex Robinson

The developers of Flushing Commons have cleared their last major hurdles before construction can begin on the long-delayed, $850 million development.

F&T and the Rockefeller groups have put together $313 million to pay for the first phase of the project, scheduled to start this spring.

The developers closed on a $235 million loan from Starwood Property Trust at the end of March to help finance the cost.

The remaining $78 million includes debt and equity investment.

Once completed, the project will turn Municipal Lot 1, at the corner of 39th Avenue and Union Street in downtown Flushing, into a multi-use complex with residential, retail and commercial space, as well as a 62,000-square-foot YMCA and 1,600 parking spaces. The developers reached a deal with the city at the end of 2013 to buy the lot for $20 million.

It was originally proposed eight years ago and passed by the City Council in 2010, but was delayed for years because of funding problems.

“We’re finally here after a lot of years. I know a lot of people have been patient,” said Michael Meyer, head of F&T Group, at a Community Board 7 meeting in December. “With the economic downturn of the last five years, it threw a monkey wrench into our plans. We had to adapt, but I’m happy to say we’re finally doing it.”

Now that they have bought the land from the city and secured funding, the project’s developers expect above-ground construction to start in late May or early June.

A spokesman for the developers said preliminary work on the first phase of the development started in mid-March. This included electrical work, changes to ramps and other internal updates necessary for excavation.

Construction on the development will happen in two phases in order to retain the available parking while work goes on. A four-level underground parking structure will be built in the first phase to allow for the bulk of the above-ground construction to take part in the second phase without disrupting the existing 1,144 parking spaces.

This was done to alleviate community concerns that construction would limit parking and disrupt adjacent small businesses in downtown Flushing. A task force was set up by Borough President Melinda Katz in March to ensure there is a dialogue between the site’s developers and the community.

The Rockefeller Group has also set up a website at flushingcommonsupdates.com to post updates in order to keep the community informed about the project’s progress.

Phase 1 is expected to be completed in early 2017 and will include 220,000 square feet of commercial and office space as well as 150 units of housing.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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