Development pushes into Northern Queens


| spreuss@queenscourier.com |



After the development phenomenon in Long Island City, developers are looking into Queens for new opportunity. As a result, there has been a spark in development in Northern Queens, specifically Flushing and Willets Point, including a flourish of new hotels as well as multiple mega mixed-use developments.

Willets Point has been a target for redevelopment since 2008 when Mayor Bloomberg proposed the plan with the intention to make Willets Point the first “green neighborhood” calling it the “Willets Point Urban Renewal Area”. After much deliberation and controversy, a final decision of approval will be made in October of this year. The 61-acre plot will include residential, retail, hotel, convention center, entertainment, commercial office, community, parking, and open space, resulting in 8.94 million gross square feet of new construction. The plan will also include a new connection between the Van Wyck Expressway and the Willets Point District for easy and convenient accessibility.

The plan’s main agenda is to approach an underutilized industrial area with multiple issues including environmental contamination, building code violations, poor road conditions and unsanitary storm and sewer systems. Although the plan has brought controversy concerning the buyout and condemnation of multiple businesses in Willets Point, the plan is expected to enhance economic growth in the Flushing and Corona areas, approaching ongoing environmental issues, and improve the cityscape for the future expanding the greater Flushing core.

Flushing has been experiencing tremendous redevelopment both in mixed-use and hotel development. Downtown Flushing is expected to see the start of construction for the Flushing Commons redevelopment this fall. The $850 million project is expected to encompass commercial, residential, and community space in the heart of Downtown Flushing. In Phase One, the already densely-retailed neighborhood will gain an additional 350,000 square-feet of commercial space, a 62,000 YMCA, and 160 residential units.

Additionally the first phase will include a 1.5-acre public plaza area with a fountain and amphitheater. Phase Two will include another 450 residential units, 150,000 square-feet of commercial space, and 15,000 square-feet of community space. The plan is expected to create more of an attraction for tourists, jobs, and retail opportunity in the area.

Hotel developments are taking the Flushing area by storm with at least eight new hotels in the works. Flushing remains an attractive area for hotels in such close proximity to LaGuardia Airport and its highly-visited history. The new hotels include two affordable luxury hotels with about 300 rooms by Starwood Hotels and TDC Development on 35th and Farrington. Another 18-story extended stay hotel is expected to develop on Union Street with a total of 161 rooms. Massey Knakal currently holds for sale three new hotel developments on Linden Place with one close to completion. In such a prime area for convenience in travel, Flushing is expected to benefit greatly from theses new hotel additions. As some believe this sudden burst in hospitality will result in saturation, others beg to differ believing that the area can sustain the boom, especially having experienced over-booking in the past. Flushing is a very well-visited area both for shopping and entertainment, as well as for family and leisure. These additions are expected to show great utilization and fill a void that Flushing has experienced in the past.