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City Council passes Municipal Lot 3 affordable housing proposal

By Madina Toure

The City Council unanimously approved the One Flushing development project, which seeks to build affordable housing at Municipal Lot 3 in downtown Flushing.

The project consists of 231 affordable apartments and a superintendent’s unit at the lot at 133-45 41st Ave., which will include 66 units of low-income senior housing. The project will also provide up to 229 parking spaces, 73 more than the lot’s current 156 spaces.

In April, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been selected Asian Americans for Equality, HANAC Inc. and Monadnock Development for the project’s development team.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said One Flushing is an opportunity to create a 100 percent affordable housing development with a community center in the heart of Flushing that is open to the public.

He acknowledged that the project comes at the expense of one of the area’s key municipal parking lots, but said there is a dire need for affordable housing.

“Just down the street, another 100 percent affordable building called Macedonia Plaza cut its ribbon last year,” Koo said. “This building had an astounding 40,000 applicants for only 140 apartments. It goes to show just how desperate New Yorkers are for affordable housing.”

He also noted that the project is a unique public-private partnership in which senior affordable housing will go as low as 37 percent of area media income and that it will create retail space opportunities for local businesses.

A second-floor community facility area will provide care services to support senior wellness, managed by AAFECare Flushing and HANAC in partnership with the Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation.

In the community facility area, HANAC will also operate its Weatherization Assistance Program to reduce heating and electrical costs and enhance energy efficiency of residents’ homes.

The public will also be able to use a large ground-floor community room for meetings and events and there will be a rooftop vegetable farm for residents.

Through its lending-arm affiliate Renaissance EDC, AAFE has created a $2 million loan fund to provide loan assistance to small businesses in the neighborhood that want to rent space.

In March, Community Board 7 voted against approving the proposal because a portion of the units would also be allocated to residents living in the coverage areas of Community Boards 3 and 4.

HPD said its affordable housing lottery rules state that current and eligible residents of the local community board receive preference for 50 percent of the units, but it is not guaranteed.

Half of CB7’s allocation was granted to residents under CB3 and CB4 after Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) asked the city to find a public site near Willets Point for affordable housing, according to HPD.

CB7 Chairman Eugene Kelty maintained that the board has no problem with the project or the community boards themselves, noting that they thought it was “a very good project.”

“The biggest problem we have is the deal that Council member Julissa Ferreras did that took half of my affordable housing away,” Kelty said.

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

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