Proposed zoning changes for Flushing West unveiled

By Madina Toure

At a public scoping meeting hosted by the Department of City Planning on the Flushing West rezoning proposal last week, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) expressed concerns about many aspects of the project.

The Flushing West plan would create opportunities for mixed-income housing, community facilities, economic development and new public access areas along the Flushing Creek waterfront within a roughly 11-block area in the western portion of downtown Flushing, according to the City Planning document outlining the rezoning proposal.

The 47-acre area is bounded by Northern Boulevard, Prince Street, Roosevelt Avenue, College Point Boulevard, 40th Road and Flushing Creek, the document states.

Koo said the de Blasio’s administration’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing tool could help create more than 500 additional affordable housing units, but it is unclear how the policy would benefit the variety of income levels in downtown Flushing.

“Many people in Flushing simply can’t afford MIH as currently proposed,” he said. “I expect the administration to develop a comprehensive housing plan that addresses all levels of income, especially low and middle incomes as well as senior housing.”

He also said the ongoing dredging of Flushing Creek is only a “temporary fix” because the creek’s combined sewage overflow tanks are already full.

“We need to be sure the Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers are involved in the planning and implementation of Flushing West,” he said in a statement.

The proposal to rezone Flushing West is part of a comprehensive neighborhood planning process to support de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, whose goal is to create 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.

The Flushing West plan builds on a draft land-use, zoning and master planning effort initiated by the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp., which got a $1.5 million brownfield grant in 2011 for Flushing Creek.

The project would clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and establish a planned community with waterfront access and housing and commercial space.

The Flushing West plans include a mixed-use bus transit center and the creation of a special district for the Flushing West area.

Joe Marvilli, a spokesman at City Planning, said the public scoping meeting was held to get feedback from the community on what to focus on in the environmental review process.

“We know there is a desire for affordable housing in Flushing West and a pedestrian-friendly waterfront and we are working with federal, state and city agencies on a strategy for Flushing Creek,” Marvilli said.

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

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