By Madina Toure
When John Napolitano, HANAC’s director of community development and planning, was growing up just 2.5 miles from downtown Flushing, the area was going through a new age of growth and renewal spurred by the growth of the Asian community. He said some people feel the growth is happening too quickly.
“People want to be clustered together, that’s the nature of cities: any opportunity where you can have interaction with other folks who want to spur new investment, new entrepreneurial opportunities,” Napolitano said. “I think that energy has really built upon the last 30 years of investment that really takes stock in the community and the people it seems are committed in the long term to make Flushing grow and continue to expand.”
Downtown Flushing has gradually become one of the epicenters of the building boom in New York City.
HANAC Inc. and Monadnock Development are working on a proposal to build affordable housing at Municipal Lot 3 at 133-45 41st Ave., which would consist of 231 affordable apartments and a superintendent’s unit, along with 66 units of low-income senior housing. The project would also provide up to 229 parking spaces, which would be 73 more than the current 156 spaces at the lot.
Community Board 7 voted against the proposal in March because a portion of the units would also be allocated to residents living in the coverage areas of Community Boards 3 and 4.
But the project has since moved through the ULURP review process and will be voted on by the City Council no later than July 25, Napolitano said. He expects the Council to vote in favor of it as did the City Planning Commission and Borough President Melinda Katz. He said the project will bring much-needed jobs and housing, enhance the commercial corridor of the downtown Flushing marketplace and bring new retail opportunities for small and large merchants.
He also said the developers ensured any runoff of water or discharge of systems from the building would not exacerbate ongoing environmental issues in the community, citing Flushing Creek.
“We understand the community has a lot of concerns about the unfettered growth of the Flushing community and the community’s capacity to absorb the new growth in a sustainable manner, given all the environmental implications with new development in terms of adding to population growth,” he said.
Another major project underway in downtown is Flushing Commons, a 1.8-million-square-foot mixed-use development. It will include residential, office, retail, parking and community space. There will be five buildings surrounded by a 1.5-acre, open-air public plaza.
The first phase, which includes a 14-story residential condominium building at 138-35 39th Ave. as well as an 11-story office condominium building at 38-18 Union St., was topped off in March.
The development, which is 90 percent sold out, will receive its first temporary occupancy certificate for the underground garage this month and the second for the office tower by early November.
Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group, one of the project developers, said Flushing Commons was a public-private partnership sponsored by the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he first entered office as a way to address longstanding infrastructure and development needs that had been ignored.
“We enjoyed a great deal of industry, political and community support to generate jobs and that was the No. 1 prerogative back then,” Myer said, referring to the economic downturn. “But it’s logical that now when the tables turn and you’re going through an economic boom, then that’s less of an issue and quality-of-life issues rise to the top.”
Other projects are also underway. The first phase of SkyView Parc, a condominium located at 40-22 College Point Blvd., which has retail units and 448 condominium units, was completely sold out by 2013. The second phase, known as The Grand, has 805 condominium units. The third and final building, the Grand Three, just topped off this quarter and roughly 5 acres of the 7-acre rooftop park will be complete.
The Century Development Group, founded and headed by George Xu, is looking to build a mixed-use development at 137-61 Northern Blvd. that contains 191 key hotel rooms, 43 condominiums serviced by the hotel, retail and two floors of community facility units.
The project is currently in the first phase, which is centered on design, according to Lynn Wei, the company’s marketing director. Although the company’s website states that its expected completion date is 2019, Wei said the completion date is not yet known.
Others are already open and operating. The One Fulton Square mixed-use development at 39-16 Prince St. is made up of a 168-room Hyatt Hotel, 22 office units, 19 commercial retail units, 43 luxury residential units as well as restaurants, a bar and lounge and a café.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour