Flushing’s Great Wall is being torn down.
Great Wall Supermarket, on Northern Boulevard and Leavitt Street, will be replaced next year by a glass-clad, 11-story building after the supermarket’s owners decided to not renew the lease, according to city records. The proposed building’s modern, sleek look will tower next to the Civil War-era Flushing Town Hall, causing many in the community to criticize the new building for not conforming to the appearance of its historic neighbor.
“This thing looks like it’s something out of Miami Vice,” Flushing resident Vincent Amato said. “You can kiss goodbye any sense of history this neighborhood still had.”
Despite community resistance, Community Board 7 passed a request to change the area’s zoning, allowing the building’s developer, George Chu, to move another step closer toward his goal of developing a mixed-use building with a hotel, store fronts, community space and apartment units.
Flushing Town Hall wrote a letter expressing their support of the new development, and the planned community space will be used often by Town Hall events. During the community board meeting, the board members defended their decision to allow the building to be constructed.
“We’re not granting something that’s significantly different then what could be there,” Chuck Apelian said. “None of us are negligent of the history.”
Flushing Town Hall was once the center of civic life, serving as the seat of local government until the mid-19th century before Flushing and other towns in Queens were absorbed into Greater New York City.
But now it is a lone reminder of the past in the center of a new Flushing that is undergoing a building boom. Nearby, a similar plan for a mixed-use building, including community space and a hotel, has been approved and is set to be built.
The hotel in the new building at the Great Wall site will occupy floors three to eight, with the top three floors divided into 43 apartment units. There will be 10,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor for restaurants and coffee shops, according to Eric Palatnik, the developers’ spokesman.
“We’re going to liven up the street with a sidewalk plaza area,” he said.
As the meeting ended, Apelian said, “This is a tragedy not just for Flushing, but the whole nation. Hundreds of years of American history will be overshadowed by this new building.”
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