Flushing-Willets Point-Corona corporation projects aim to improve area

By Madina Toure

The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation has taken the lead on the Flushing waterfront project and other quality-of-life issues in north-central Queens.

The LDC, headed by former Borough President Claire Shulman, has played a key role in the City Planning Department’s project to create Flushing West, a planned community with waterfront access and housing and commercial space on the Flushing waterfront.

In 2011, the LDC received a $1.5 million New York State Brownfield Opportunity Grant to fund the project. City Planning decided to combine the corporation’s project into its housing study of Flushing West. The city is preparing the environmental impact statement for the project under a contract with the LDC.

Shulman said the corporation and the city Economic Development Corporation were both fined for lobbying but that they no longer undertake the practice.

“It’s all moving along nicely,” Shulman said. “I’d rather it move along more quickly, but the city is moving along with what they call deliberate speed.”

Formed about seven years ago, the LDC is composed of private and public sector stakeholders working to develop comprehensive economic development goals for the Flushing, Willets Point and Corona neighborhoods.

Former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff asked Shulman if she would work with him on developing and getting City Council approval for the Willets Point Development Plan.

They made an agreement that ensured the inclusion of downtown Flushing on the east side of the Flushing River, with Doctoroff suggesting the formation of a local development corporation.

The city asked the LDC to hold off on some of its projects to prevent any damage to its environmental impact statement for the Willets Point project, Shulman said, noting that elected officials support efforts by the corporation or the government to improve Flushing.

“We have a marvelous working relationship with just about anyone who is working to make this project a viable, good project,” she said.

But the LDC has played key roles in other projects, too. It developed a proposal to provide Americans with Disability Act access at the Flushing-Main Street LIRR station and is working to provide elevator access and more than 200 units of affordable housing, including 66 units for low-income seniors.

A plan to build 208 affordable housing units at Municipal Lot 3 at 133-45 41st Ave., bordered by College Point Boulevard, Main Street and the LIRR, also sprang out of the LDC.

The LDC also initiated a project about six years ago that places pedestrian medians on College Point Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. A professional landscaper maintains plantings along the boulevard.

The corporation also helped move forward the Corona Plaza project. One of its members, the New York Community Bank, provided funding to enable the shovel to go in the ground, said Alex Rosa, a project consultant for the corporation. The project is about to enter the next phase of construction.

“There are banks, developers, community board members, nonprofits, a whole host of organizations that represent Flushing and the effort to provide economic development opportunities, new jobs and to enhance the community as a whole,” Rosa said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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