By Madina Toure
Western Flushing is among the latest New York City neighborhoods that are next in line for the city’s affordable housing agenda.
The Department of City Planning will conduct a housing study of the largely industrial area mainly on Flushing Creek, City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod announced Monday. The city will also look at an area in the Bronx between Grand Concourse and Highbridge.
“In collaboration with Councilmember Peter Koo, the Department is launching a study of Flushing West, an area many advocacy groups and other community stakeholders have been active in for some time,” Weisbrod said in a statement.
Because the Flushing West area is not residential, the city will have to upgrade the area’s zoning. The area would most likely consist of 70 percent regular market price and 30 percent affordable housing as well as some business on the building’s ground floor, Koo, who is the Democratic councilman for Flushing, explained.
Koo said affordable housing would be a good use of the land and that his constituents would benefit from having more affordable housing options.
“Right now, the area is mostly used for warehousing, manufacturing, so it’s not the best and highest use,” Koo said. “This piece of land is in a very good location and this is the only piece of land left in Flushing. If they want to do affordable housing, this is a pretty good place.”
He also stressed that Flushing Creek would have to undergo a massive cleanup before any affordable housing units can come to the area, saying that the river is “highly contaminated.”
In September, the department began a study of the area surrounding Cromwell and Jerome avenues in the Bronx in conjunction with Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx) and Councilwoman Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx). And for the past three years, the City Planning Department has also been working with Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for housing production and affordability includes the creation and preservation of 200,000 units of affordable housing in the five boroughs over the next 10 years.
In October 2011, the Flushing Willets Point Local Development Corporation received a $1.5 million state grant to start a new phase of planning for the redevelopment of the downtown Flushing waterfront, The city’s study of Flushing West would further build upon that study.
In 2012, members of the corporation found the 60-acre area that consists mainly of industrial and unused lots could be used for a variety of purposes, including an extra 2 million square feet, or 1,600 units of housing; 140,000 square feet of entertainment space; and 95,000 square feet of retail.
Koo credited the corporation with setting the path for the department’s study, saying the newly announced plan would most likely be a modified version of the corporation’s study.
“They have done studies before this so they have been, for the last few years, encouraging the administration to look into this matter,” he said.
In the coming months, City Planning and Koo plan to meet with local stakeholders, including residents, businessmen and developers, hold a public hearing and present the plan to the community boards.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4566.