Since its inception in 2007, the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC has committed itself to addressing two of Flushing’s most vexing issues: surging levels of congestion that apply equally to mass transit, the sidewalks, and the roadways, and an acute shortage of affordable housing, particularly as it concerns Flushing’s large and increasingly vulnerable senior population. Central to such efforts has been the LDC’s Flushing Transit Oriented Development (TOD) proposal. Developed in tandem with the MTA and NYC DOT, the LDC’s TOD proposal focuses on the Flushing LIRR station and the neighboring municipal parking lot. As of today, the LDC considers both the LIRR station and the municipal parking lot considerably underutilized, especially given their respective sizes and location. By converting the municipal lot into a mixed use facility that prioritizes affordable housing and by upgrading the station’s appearance and accessibility, the Flushing TOD promises development that is both smart and sustainable: an upgraded LIRR station would offset the area’s heightened demand for mass transit while building affordable and senior housing close to public transportation improves access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities.
Given its role in conceptualizing and advancing the TOD proposal, the LDC has noted with excitement several recent developments regarding the project’s implementation: thanks to the concerted efforts of Council Members Koo and Ferreras, an RFP to redevelop the municipal lot into affordable housing will be issued this spring. Just as encouraging, the LIRR is poised to significantly upgrade the Flushing station- once construction is completed, Flushing will then have a station that befits its status as a leading economic and cultural hub. An initiative of similar consequence is the LDC’s effort to revitalize the Flushing waterfront. Through the assistance of a NY State Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) grant, the LDC is completing a master planning strategy intended to remake the waterfront into a signature community destination. Building on previous city-led initiatives like the 2004 Downtown Flushing Development Framework, the LDC envisions a revitalized waterfront as the vital link between downtown Flushing, the future Willets Point development, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In short, a revitalized waterfront would spur the creation of significant new green space along the waterfront itself while markedly enhancing connectivity between historically disconnected neighborhoods and resources. The LDC’s waterfront efforts have benefited immeasurably from sustained community outreach. From the project’s outset, the LDC has solicited feedback from a wide range of community stakeholders, including local civic and community organizations, property owners, tenant businesses, and elected officials. Likewise, multiple city and state agencies have advised the LDC throughout the master planning process, most notably NYC DCP, as has a consultant team led by AKRF, SHoP Architects, and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.
Although the resulting master plan remains in draft form, it does include a number of core provisions, perhaps the most important being the recommendation that the waterfront be designated a special purpose district. Despite the waterfront’s close proximity to Flushing’s thriving downtown core, it remains largely characterized by underutilized and vacant lots. A special purpose designation would encourage quality mixed-use development to shift westward, thereby allowing such lots to be gradually redeveloped. Equally important, a special purpose designation would ensure that such development complies with heightened open space and shoreline resiliency guidelines. As the LDC nears completion of its waterfront master plan, it has taken more immediate steps to facilitate the area’s revitalization. Working with the Parks Dept and NYC DOT, the LDC has arranged for the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership to plant and maintain the College Point Boulevard pedestrian medians. This follows a similar effort between the LDC, Parks, and NYC DOT to plant dozens of new tress along College Point and its surrounding uplands, which was done last spring. For additional information on the LDC and its projects, please contact Nick Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org