Tag Archives: Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC

Local group plays a major role in improving the Flushing landscape


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Calling it “a labor of love,” the president of the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (LDC) said the nonprofit group is working hard toward improving Flushing for the entire community.

Former Borough President Claire Shulman serves as president and CEO of the organization which is currently involved in the first stages of the downtown Flushing revitalization effort. The process began after the nonprofit was granted funds through a state environmental program to complete a master plan for an approximately 60-acre area of the neighborhood.

The project has since been largely taken over by the Department of City Planning, which has received funding from the LDC to study potential environmental impacts of rezoning the area and renamed the project “Flushing West.”

According to Shulman, Flushing needs increased city infrastructure because of the high volume of people it services. Reports by the state comptroller’s office have praised the neighborhood’s strong economy, with visitors drawn from all around the tri-state area to experience its legendary cultural and dining offerings.

“If you walk down Main Street, it’s as busy as Times Square. Look at all the people that are there,” said Shulman, who added that the area’s infrastructure includes housing for employees of Flushing small businesses, young families and local seniors.

While the Flushing West study is one of the most high profile of the LDC’s projects, the group has also undertaken other community initiatives.

In 2009, the LDC envisioned a plan to convert a municipal parking lot to a mixed-use facility which would address a significant need for senior facilities. They subsequently received a $14,000 grant to create more elaborate development plans for the project, which would incorporate the Flushing-Main Street Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station into the design, and the project is still in the early stages of planning.

The corporation has also worked with the MTA and LIRR to identify useful improvements to the Flushing-Main Street LIRR station. These will include two new elevators which will make the station handicap accessible, as well as platform railings, lighting and warning stripes. The contract to do the station work is expected to be awarded by the end of 2015.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

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 nr@fwcldc.org