As 2014 gets into full swing the development frenzy in northern Queens continues to thrive. Last year we saw announcements throughout Flushing of mega-mixed use project developments and hotel properties. Major developments included the Willets Point Urban Renewal project, the Flushing Commons development, and multiple hotels along the major roadways in Flushing.
As a recap, the Willets Point project was approved late 2013 for a 61-acre plot development. The development will consist of residential, hotel, entertainment, retail, a convention center, commercial office space, community facility space, and parking for a total new construction square footage upwards of 8.9 million. The project would be utilizing the now existing parking lot for Citi Field and also the underutilized industrial and park areas in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the surrounding area. The plan is expected to enhance economic growth in the Flushing and Corona areas and alleviate ongoing environmental issues.
The plan has however taken much scrutiny lately for multiple disputes. Two lawsuits have been issued questioning the legality of the plan. The first dispute approaches the lack of approval from state legislature and the ULURP process. Specifically, the use of the parking lot currently used by Citi Field was initially to be available temporarily for “public use” which this development is claimed to not fall under. The second lawsuit is targeted toward the alleged inadequate relocation process of dozens of merchants currently in Willets Point with over an estimated 200 employees. Over 50 of the merchants have already been relocated to the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx also referred to as the “Sun-Rise Cooperative.” Although some of the merchants are pursuing this lawsuit others have come to the reality that the move is inevitable and have pursued other locations.
The $850 million dollar Flushing Commons Development in Downtown Flushing was expected to break ground in the fall of 2013. The plan is to be done in two phases: Phase 1 includes 150 residential units, 220,000 square feet of office space and 1,600 parking spaces, which has been noted for completion in April of 2017. Phase 2, expected to break ground in 2018, would consist of another 250 residential units, 280,000 square feet of commercial space, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA, 15,000 square feet of community facility space, and a 1.5 acre town square including a fountain plaza. New renderings have also been released showing detailed drawings for the development (seen above and below).
Hotel sites are continuing to pop up in Flushing. Aside from the flourishing economy in Flushing the location is very attractive, so close to LaGuardia Airport and conveniently accessible through multiple major roadways. It is also known to be a highly visited area of Queens with culture and foreign-born residents comparable to Chinatown in NYC. Aside from the multiple hotel developments discovered in late 2013, including the Willets Point Development and several in Northern Flushing, including a 13-story 96-room Parc Hotel between Roosevelt and Main Street in Northern Flushing, a new development is now in place on a full block-through lot on Main Street and Prince Street on the Downtown Flushing border. The variance has just recently been approved allowing a 12-story Intercontinental Hotel with frontage on Prince Street including underground parking. The site would also include a 14-story office building with frontage on Main Street, a two-level spa, multiple retail stores, and a restaurant. Just across the street on Northern Boulevard, the old RKO Keith Theater is set for another mega mixed-use project. A 17-story tall building consisting of residential, retail, and community facility space is expected to be developed but no news yet on a project start date.
The development frenzy in Flushing is expected to increase the value per square foot of already sky-high real estate and interest for neighboring sites of these developments is already starting to peak. Flushing is known to be a well-visited area by tourists and families alike for culture, shopping, and leisure, further justifying that the new additions will prove to be very well utilized.