Op-Ed: Even in the lack of Flushing West upzoning, the area has a lot of potential

Photo: by courtesy of Department of City Planning

The Flushing West rezoning proposal was introduced by Mayor de Blasio two years ago in an effort to create affordable housing. This area was part of de Blasio’s affordable housing plan which incorporated 15 designated rezoning areas including the Jerome Avenue corridor in the Bronx, and East New York which has been approved by the city.

It would incorporate a potential 1,600 affordable housing units in the blocks which fall adjacent to Flushing Creek and are bound by Northern Boulevard, Prince Street, and Roosevelt Avenue of which right now there is little to no housing. Many believed that this area has been longed for change and deserved a revitalization, however the introduction of this plan did not go unnoticed by critics from the beginning.

Multiple publications noted this week that city councilman Peter Koo stated he had reservations regarding the plan expressing concern about how the investment is handled to not only “mitigate the impacts of the proposed increased floor area, but also [to] address the existing capital needs of the community,” according to City Limits. It was reported that Peter Koo sent a letter to the Department of City Planning outlining his objections to turning 11 industrial blocks between the polluted Flushing Creek and the terminus of the No. 7 train into a new neighborhood, Flushing West. The plan would also be under strict height restrictions due to their proximity to LaGuardia Airport. Koo stated that certain flight paths departing and arriving would need to return to pre-2012 configurations which would require federal intervention.

As a real estate professional I would have to agree that Mr. Koo’s concerns are very obvious and address serious issues regarding the upzoning of this area which were completely overlooked by the Mayor’s plans from the beginning. A few of the issues could potentially be resolved but the need for federal intervention for the change in flight path could pose a rather unsolvable problem. Not only is the sewage a topic of concern as recently noted by Peter Koo but the extreme traffic in the area could also be another factor to consider in the revitalization process.

I believe even with the lack of the upzoning in the Flushing West area, it should still thrive in the right direction as this area still has development potential with the existing zoning. It is one of the more undeveloped areas of Flushing and houses several larger pieces of land all located just blocks from the center of Downtown Flushing which currently has several mega-projects underway.

With the slate of several large scale residential driven development projects in the immediate area, the current predominant M-zoning for Flushing West may now push developers to think about office and industrial projects with both are much needed for this area.