Tag Archives: Michael Meyer

YMCA questions its place in Flushing Commons project


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Flushing YMCA

A new recreational center is being built at Flushing Commons, but questions remain as to whether the Flushing YMCA will operate it.

Paul Custer, senior vice president of government affairs for the YMCA of Greater New York, told The Courier in an exclusive interview that the nonprofit organization is looking for answers regarding the project in planned meetings with Flushing Commons’ developers, F&T Group, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The Flushing Y came on board with the Flushing Commons plan as the project’s “community benefit.” Original plans called for the new Flushing Y — which currently operates out of a 90-year-old building on Northern Boulevard — to be created on the second and third floors of a building erected during the project’s first phase.

Those plans, however, were amended in 2009 as a result of economic issues related to the project, Custer said. As part of a redesign, the Flushing Y was relocated to the basement of a retail and commercial building called “The Elm” to be constructed at the corner of 39th Avenue and 138th Street.

“It’s not a very viable place,” Custer said. “It’s kind of hard to make it a community center [from the basement].”

The changes, he noted, compromise the YMCA’s goals transforming its Flushing chapter into a 21st-century community center, allowing it to offer new programs and existing initiatives while also removing any physical obstacles preventing people from participating in them.

Michael Meyer of the F&T Group told The Courier that the group mutually agreed to explore “alternative locations or alternative buildings” at the Flushing Commons site for the Flushing Y.

“We will explore that with them and hopefully we’ll find a way to get there,” Meyer said. “But that’s all on the drawing boards and there’s no certainty.”

In future meetings with F&T Group and city representatives, Custer hopes the Flushing Y could find a more viable place at Flushing Commons. If that goal can’t be fulfilled, he noted, the Y will need to explore other alternatives while continuing to maintain an aging facility. It has reached out to local elected officials for assistance.

Meyer said the Flushing Y “has a home in Flushing Commons” and the F&T Group will construct a recreational center in the project, as required in its deal with the city. Should the Flushing Y choose to no longer participate in the project, he said, the F&T Group would seek another organization to operate the recreational center.

“We’re still building the facility,” he added. “That’s our agreement with the city. There’s no doubt about that.”

One elected official involved in the process, Councilman Peter Koo, was optimistic that a deal could be reached.

“The proposed YMCA in Flushing Commons would provide a tremendous boon to our community,” Koo said in a statement to The Courier. “I have encouraged both sides to come to the table to discuss how the project will move forward and remain optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached between the two parties.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Borough Board casts vote in first meeting of the year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The Queens Borough Board approved the $1.5 million sale of a vacant Flushing lot Monday, during its first meeting of the year.

Board members unanimously voted to allow the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services to dispose of a 2,500-square-foot parcel in the heart of Flushing to an entity of the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The property at 135-15 40th Rd. will then be sold to developer Success 88, to be built into a six-story building with commercial and office space. It will also have a community facility, which includes a school for English learners.

“This is a very good project,” said Councilmember Peter Koo, who represents the area. “It will bring prosperity and jobs to the community.”

Then-Borough President Helen Marshall approved the city’s ULURP plans in October.

The $4.5 million project is expected to begin construction in 2015 and end in late 2016, officials said.

Voting members of Monday’s board included Borough President Melinda Katz, the borough’s City Council delegation and Community Board 7 Chair Gene Kelty.

“Even though it’s my first meeting as the borough president, it’s not everybody else’s first meeting,” Katz said. “You guys have been doing great work, and I look forward to continuing that.”

“I look forward to having a very active borough board,” Katz said. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Developers of the long-delayed Flushing Commons project also updated the board on changes to its $850 million plan, including a parking strategy that would keep the lot’s 1,144 spaces during construction.

“This will have a softer impact on the community,” said Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group. “I think it’s a win-win-win. We’re excited we’re finally getting started.”

The two-phase upscale complex, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail space, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA and a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

RECOMMENDED STORIES