Tag Archives: New York City Economic Development Corporation

LIC Partnership offers a snapshot of Long Island City’s growth now and for the future


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jessica Frankl

It’s no secret that real estate in Long Island City is booming.

Thousands of apartments have been built within the last decade and land prices have risen to historic highs. With the influx of residents, the retail side is witnessing growth and more offices are moving across the East River.

In front of hundreds of real estate industry members at the LIC Partnership’s ninth annual real estate breakfast on Wednesday, experts agreed that it’s a good time for the area as it blooms into one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, and that real estate activity is set to multiply.

“Today’s breakfast featured a very enthusiastic discussion among some of the area’s industry leaders on the growth and demand for real estate in Long Island City,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty, who moderated the panel discussion at the event. “The general consensus is that it’s a great time to be in this market, and that the area will only continue to take off in the coming years.”

More than 8,600 residential units have been completed in LIC since 2006, and more than 22,500 units are in the planning or construction phase, according to a LIC Partnership analysis released simultaneously with the event.

Some additional growth may come by way of the Sunnyside Yards — a rail yard used by Amtrak, the MTA and New Jersey Transit — where Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to develop 11,250 affordable housing units, schools, open spaces and community facilities. The city’s Economic Development Corporation will announce the company that will perform a yearlong feasibility study for that plan in the coming weeks.

If accomplished, the Sunnyside Yards plan could again expand LIC, but panelists at the event weren’t immediately on board with the ambitious idea, which has been pitched for decades by various figures.

“My attitude is every time everyone gets all these visions, I’m like you know what I don’t have time for this,” said panelist David Dishy, president of development and acquisition at L+M Development Partners.

DSC_1810B

LIC Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin addressing the crowd.

One thing that is clear is that more and more people want to buy homes and stay in LIC.  To meet the high demand for homes — and rising land values — developers are pushing to build more condos.

However, buying residential property in the neighborhood is also becoming a pricey endeavor. The average price for condominiums in the first three months of 2015 was $678,333 for a studio, $820,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1.1 million for a two-bedroom unit, according to the LIC Partnership analysis.

The neighborhood has also emerged as a hotel destination for New York City. More than 20 hotels have opened in the area in seven years and 26 more are planned or currently under construction, the Partnership said.

The foot traffic increase in LIC has helped fill in vacant spaces on retail corridors, but for most it’s still hard to pinpoint the neighborhood’s Main Street.

“It’s hard to point it out, but I would say Vernon [Boulevard],” said Matthew Baron, president of Simon Baron Development. “There’s really no Main Street, but I think that’s okay.”

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Launch of ‘Action Plan’ hopes to spark new beginning in Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Signaling the beginning of a new era for Jamaica, politicians and community leaders announced Wednesday the launch of the Jamaica Now Action Plan, which is designed to revitalize the neighborhood through promoting development, events and jobs.

After nine months of vetting ideas with the community, officials unveiled the 21-step action plan, 16 of which will be implemented within three years and cost $153 million. The plan’s initiatives hope to create 3,000 new housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 800 hotel rooms in five years, according to officials.

For Jamaica residents, it means a safer downtown with free public Wi-Fi, new streetscapes, more events and job opportunities. For business owners and art institutions, there will be resources to help grow their organizations and companies. And for developers, the city is prepared to support new projects, especially those with affordable housing, in downtown Jamaica, which some have named “DoJam.”

“Queens is the number one destination of choice in the United States of America for the year 2015,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “And what we did here today as a partnership is to make sure that Jamaica is an active participant in the number one destination; that folks come from all around the world just to visit Jamaica, Queens. ”

Some actions included in the plan are already taking place, such as the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s request for proposals for builders to replace the NYPD garage on 168th Street with a mixed-use residential project, and the Small Business Services grant to help fund redesigns of storefronts on Sutphin Boulevard.

However, others will take at least five years, such as a plan to convince owners of vacant or neglected properties to utilize their sites. Another longer-term project includes constructing new water mains to accommodate the increase in new developments.

Some other highlights of the plan include a $250,000 study to improve the attractiveness of Jamaica Avenue, the installation of more NYPD cameras around the community, and the implementation of a new Select Bus Service route from Jamaica to Flushing.

Although not originally part of the 21 actions, Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, announced five additional plans to help improve the area, including a branding program for Jamaica and an initiative to draw more tourists to Jamaica’s cultural institutions.

Also, “DoJam” will be included in the city’s LinkNYC network, which replaces old payphones with touchscreen kiosks that provide free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, directions and charging stations for mobile devices.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen talking to a crowd about the Jamaica Now Action Plan.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen talking to a crowd about the Jamaica Now Action Plan.

“I have seen the many changes in Jamaica,” Assemblyman William Scarborough said. “I remember going back when we had a Mays and a Macy’s and we had three movie [theaters] on Jamaica Avenue. Now Jamaica is back on an upswing. This is going to be one of the bright lights in the city of New York.”

The city has been working to revitalize Jamaica for decades after its economic downturn in the ’70s and ’80s with various investments such as the construction of the JFK AirTrain in 2003, and the rezoning of the downtown area in 2007, which paved the way for more development. Seeing the potential with the transit hub and low land rates, real estate investors have also been buying large properties and planning more projects in Jamaica.

Carlisle Towery, who has led the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for 40 years, has long advocated for many infrastructure investments that helped guide Jamaica back from its dark era where businesses were quickly leaving. While he is retiring this year, Towery said the action plan is just the beginning of the future of Jamaica.

“My career is ending, but it’s very nice and gratifying to end it with a beginning,” he said. “And Jamaica Now is that beginning. It’s the start of a big step forward in moving Jamaica to the next level.”

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City collecting proposals for Sunnyside Yards feasibility study


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYCEDC Sunnyside Yards Feasibility Study RFP

Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving full steam ahead with his plan to create 11,250 housing units over Sunnyside Yards, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has voiced opposition to it.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC)  announced Friday a request for proposals for a yearlong comprehensive feasibility study for building over the rail yards. The agency is collecting proposals until March 20.

The study will examine the prospect of decking the enormous rail yard, and building homes, schools, open spaces and community facilities for the neighborhood as well as improving public transportation and infrastructure, while not interfering with train operations in the yards.

“This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities,” de Blasio said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods.”

De Blasio first announced his plan for the yards during his second State of the City address in January, but hours later Cuomo disagreed with using the yards because of long-term plans for it.

But Cuomo is not the only politician to oppose developing Sunnyside Yards. When an idea to build a new Jacob Javits Center over the rail yards surfaced last year, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan didn’t immediately respond favorably to that plan.

Both shared concerns of major development in the area without first addressing issues current residents are facing, including lack of sufficient public services. State Sen. Michael Gianaris addressed Community Board 2 earlier this month about the proposal as well, and stated similar concerns.

“Any talk of thousands of new housing units at Sunnyside Yards should be secondary to meeting our significant existing infrastructure needs,” Senator Gianaris said. “Western Queens is already in need of many more schools, parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line. As this process unfolds, I look forward to working with the community to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear when it comes to Sunnyside Yards.”

Building over the yards is a key part to de Blasio’s goal of building and preserving 200,000 affordable housing units — 80,000 of which will be new construction — in the next 10 years.

There are nearly 200 acres of land at the site, 113 acres that are owned by Amtrak, 66 by the MTA and the remainder by private owners, according to the EDC’s request for proposals.

The EDC is working with Amtrak, which is in favor of development over its section of the yards.

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City accepting proposals to develop NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Even more development is coming to Jamaica—this time on the site of a police department parking garage.

Not long after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to focus on creating more housing with his State of the City address, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officially announced a request for proposals to develop hundreds of market rate and affordable units out of an NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica.

The 59,500-square-foot site at 93rd Avenue and 169th Street could also include ground-floor retail, according to the EDC, which set an April 30 deadline for developers to submit plans for the lot. Of course the project is consistent with de Blasio’s goal to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units in 10 years.

The two-story garage is currently used by cops, and will have to be entirely demolished to construct the new project, according to the EDC. But it’s a price the city is willing to pay for more housing.

“The 168th Street garage site holds powerful potential to serve the Jamaica neighborhood with affordable housing and other amenities, while building upon the area’s strengths as a commercial, cultural and transit hub,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball.

Police vehicles will have to be “accommodated” in order to redevelop the site, the EDC said.

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

The development could create 400 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs, the EDC said, and would add another project to the dizzying amount of construction coming to Jamaica near the downtown spurred by under-utilized lots, cheap land prices, high traffic and access to a massive transportation hub.

This includes Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) giving its twin parking lots near 90th Avenue and 168th Street to Blumenfeld Development Group for a jumbo mixed-use residential and commercial project, with more than 265,000 square feet of space.

The GJDC is also working on a $225 million, 29-story residential and commercial tower across from the AirTrain and LIRR station on Sutphin Boulevard.

Not far away on Sutphin Boulevard, Able Management Group is constructing a 210-key hotel, and nearby York College has 3.5 acres of on-campus land that could be home to new companies that want to move into the area to partner with the institution through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY tax-break program.

TCX Development’s seven-story luxury rental building on Hillside Avenue is nearing completion, and some major properties have also hit the market or were recently sold, including a $22 million sale of a huge garage and commercial strip at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. There are already plans to develop the property into a housing and retail mix, according to a published report.

Also, the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, which was formerly a Macy’s department store, also hit the market for an astounding $45 million.

And finally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced that it is accepting plans from developers for 17 vacant city-owned sites in Jamaica to create more affordable housing.

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LIC loses some free Wi-Fi hotspots amid bankruptcy scandal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Long Island City has lost some of its connection.

Spain-based Wi-Fi provider GOWEX, which was announced last year as one of the organizations that would help bring free Wi-Fi access throughout the city, has filed bankruptcy and had “dozens” of its hotspots go offline, according to the New York Post.

Some of the hotspots include areas in Long Island City, the Bronx and Staten Island, the Post said.

According to the Post, analysts at Gotham City Research posted in a July 1 report that GOWEX had lied about the size of its contract with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, claiming it had 100,00 hotspots throughout the world, when it actually had about 5,000.

Founder and CEO of GOWEX, Jenaro Garcia resigned after he admitted he inflated the revenues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

When it was announced last year, GOWEX was expected to help bring free Wi-Fi access to the Long Island City area with the network being installed along the Vernon Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and Queens Plaza commercial and retail corridors.

GOWEX had a contract with the EDC worth $245,000 and it has paid the company about $185,000 so far, according to published reports. The contract with GOWEX runs through September 2016.

 

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Industrial Business Zones in danger of losing funding


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Ted Renz is hoping what he fought so hard for won’t soon end.

Just last November, Renz, director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, was at the forefront of the fight to get the neighborhood included in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program.

But only three months later, the IBZ may be in jeopardy, as Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in funding in his preliminary budget for the program, an initiative left over from the previous administration to save manufacturing jobs.

“We are disappointed that it wasn’t in the mayor’s budget,” Renz said. “We thought that he was a big supporter of manufacturing jobs. We hope that it will be reinstated (in his final budget).”

IBZs were created to stabilize industrial areas and spur growth in the manufacturing sector by offering tax credits of up to $1,000 per employee for businesses that relocated to them, and additional services to help companies grow.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated nearly $4 million to 16 IBZs in 2006.

However, since its inception, funding decreased to about $1.1 million in 2013. Bloomberg himself hasn’t allocated money to the initiative since 2010, but the City Council has restored it every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The move could mean de Blasio, who supported manufacturing jobs during his campaign, will engage a different strategy to assist the sector, although his administration has not come up with any specifics.

“The de Blasio administration is committed to making smart, impactful investments that will help industrial business thrive in New York City, and is working with our agency partners to take a fresh look at the suite of programs that support this critical part of the city economy,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Spending differences in one program do not speak to the overall commitment to industrial firms and their jobs.”

Despite the decline in funding over the years, the program has grown to 21 IBZs, including Ridgewood and Woodside last year.

Community Board (CB) 5 especially pushed for the Ridgewood IBZ against opponents, which are owners who wanted to use their properties for residential use instead of industrial.

“It enables us to promote businesses more in that area and advocate for businesses, and provide programs for manufacturing,” said Renz, who is a member of CB 5.

In March, the city council will review the preliminary budget, and some are touting the IBZ’s signficance. “I am committed to restore it,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “I know it is important not just to Maspeth and Ridgewood, but the rest of the city. It is something that the council treasures.”

 

 

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LIC’s Entrepreneur Space: Helping businesses grow for the past three years


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Entrepreneur Space

For the past three years the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City has been that light at the end of the tunnel for many aspiring self-starters looking to get into the food business.

The Entrepreneur Space, located at 36-46 37th St., is a 5,500-square-foot food and business incubator available for clients to rent by shifts, on a 24/7 basis, for a “low cost.” The space is administered by the Queens Economic Development Corporation and funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“There are people out there that want to [start] their own business and running a food business legally cannot be done from your home kitchen,” said Kathrine Gregory, founder of the Entrepreneur Space. “What we are doing is we are taking people out of their home kitchen and giving them an opportunity to grow a business [at] their own pace.”

The space offers clients a professional kitchen atmosphere, which includes equipment such as commercial mixers, a hearth oven, small wares and pans, a freezer, and cold and dry storage. Clients bring any ingredients or packaging needed. A client assistant is also available to help the clients with any tasks.

“We always have staff in the kitchen,” said Gregory. “You aren’t in the kitchen by yourself. You don’t have to worry about something going wrong.”

There are also classrooms and conference rooms available to rent for meetings, teaching and small or large events.

Since starting in 2011, over 400 aspiring business men and women, who Gregory calls “food-preneurs,” have come through the Entrepreneur Space. Some realized starting a food business was not for them, while others continued creating their treats.

One business that has been with the space since the very beginning is MitchMallows, which offers handcrafted marshmallows with unique flavors, such as churros and ginger wasabi.

“It was a godsend that the Entrepreneur Space even exists, otherwise a business like mine would have no home,” said Mitch Greenberg, owner and head chef of MitchMallows. “It’s the perfect solution to start up culinary businesses like mine. My business keeps growing and everyone at the kitchen is terrific to work with.”

The Entrepreneur Space celebrated its third anniversary on Feb. 11, with about 40 clients displaying and selling their products.

The celebration’s theme commemorated the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, where the Belgian Waffle made its debut. MariePaule Vermersch, daughter of the originator of the waffle in the U.S., was on hand to make waffles with the requisite powdered sugar, whipped cream and strawberries.

The event was sponsored by Coffeed, Fairway, Fortune Society and Square Wine & Spirits.

“It feels really great, I can’t believe it has been three years,” said Gregory. “The best part comes back to the people who come in with their dreams and now they see a light at the end of the tunnel and they see how they can do it. That’s the exciting part; that’s the inspiring part.”

 

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MTA plans to help promote LIC during No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins.

Although the MTA cannot put a stop to the suspensions expected for the No. 7 train, the agency plans on working to help promote Long Island City.

After a closed preliminary meeting with elected officials and community leaders on Thursday, the MTA said it is willing to work with the community to create a marketing campaign for the neighborhood during the upcoming shutdowns.

Between Feb. 28 and July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized but the agency also plans on holding nine tentative weekend shutdowns August through November.

“In terms of what we are more than willing to do is to work with the elected officials and the business owners on a marketing campaign for area businesses in Long Island City,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

The campaign would include “pretty robust presence” at subway stations with brochures in different languages, posters, a homepage banner and information on the digital urban planners, said Ortiz.

The agency is also considering doing a two-side branded MetroCard with information on Long Island City.

In regards to the option offered by elected officials to have a shuttle bus service into the city, the MTA does not plan on implementing it because it is not a “viable alternative,” said Ortiz. 

He added that it is quicker for the vast majority of passengers to take the E, N or Q lines into Manhattan and people will still be able to get into Long Island City. 

“It’s just going to take a little bit longer,” said Ortiz. 

Elected officials have also asked for ferry service to be increased during the time of the suspensions, but Ortiz said that option would have to be addressed by the city and the New York City Economic Development Corporation

Ortiz added that the suspensions need to happen in order for certain tracks to be replaced to prevent future problems and increase the number of trains running on the No. 7 line. 

The MTA plans to work together with the elected officials to hold meetings with the community. The dates are yet to be determined.

 

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City still tallying Willets Point business owners who took final payout to relocate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city is still tallying the number of Willets Point business owners who took a final payout to relocate, officials said.

A pooled $3.5 million was up for grabs for auto shop owners in the Phase 1 area of the development site who agreed to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of January.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) offered shop owners a payout equal to one year’s rent, if they relocated by Nov. 30, and six months’ rent, if they left between December and the end of January.

The city was still making final counts Wednesday, an EDC spokesperson said, adding that a more concrete number would be available next week.

In December, nine businesses agreed to vacate by Jan. 31 and 22 took a payout to relocate by November, according to Megan Montalvo, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area.

At the end of November, 30 relocated, signed new leases or are close to doing so, she said.

About 50 business owners from the Sunrise Co-op, a large group fighting to relocate together, are inching closer to signing their own lease with the city to move as a group to the Bronx, Sunrise leader Sergio Aguirre said.

“We will have good news soon,” he said.

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land, and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

 

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Councilmember Costa Constantinides wants government to work for his constituents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Councilmember Costa Constantinides wants his constituents to know he is here for them and plans on keeping his two campaign promises – to work hard for them and never lie.

It has been almost four weeks since Constantinides began his position as District 22’s newest councilmember representing Astoria and parts of Long Island City, Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

From moving into his brand new office, located at 31-09 Newton Ave. in Astoria, to going around meeting his constituents and introducing himself to the community, Constantinides has been busy.

“I understand the work the people in this district have sent me to City Hall to do and I’m making sure their voice is continually heard at City Hall and that’s my job,” he said during an interview with The Courier.

The freshman legislator refers to his new office as the “people’s house” and encourages his constituents to stop by.

“It’s real easy to hear how I’m doing,” he said. “I take a lot of cues from my constituents on the ground as to how things are really working out in the district.”

His plans for the district include working with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to bring ferry service to western Queens and also create what he calls a “multi-module transportation system,” including bike lanes and increased bus service.

Constantinides also plans to work on improving schools in the district, whether it be helping reduce subway noise congestion at P.S. 85 or discussing with the Department of Education technological upgrades to bring schools to the 21st century.

Constantinides also wants to introduce a bill requiring corner garbage pickup at the end of every business day, and bring The Doe Fund to the area to help keep the community clean.

Constantinides will hold his inauguration ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 26 at Long Island City High School, located at 14-30 Broadway, starting at 3 p.m.

“I think we have a great staff,” he said. “We’re really excited to get out to the neighborhood. We’re really going to be out in the community, hearing concerns that our neighbors have and finding ways to address those concerns. We’re going to be active in being out in the community and being a resource for them to make government better.”

 

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Astoria and LIC among Queens stops recommended for East River Ferry expansion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the East River Ferry

Queens could be the big winner from an expansion of the East River Ferry service if the city can find a spare $80 million to expand existing infrastructure and a private ferry company willing to pony up $10 million a year to run it.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released its preliminary 2013 Citywide Ferry Study earlier this week, in which it considered 58 potential new ferry stops, including some based on community recommendations, for the East River.

In the end, the NYCEDC recommended 11 possible spots. The areas in Queens include Astoria Cove, Long Island City North, and Beach 108th and 116th Street in the Rockaways, according to the report. Ferry service was also recommended looked into for LaGuardia Airport.

“In the span of only a few years, ferry service has become an integral part of the City’s transportation infrastructure, serving millions of passengers and providing momentum for continued development along the City’s waterfront,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball.

According to the report, these new routes would require “considerable capital and operating subsidies” and an expanded new network featuring the East River Ferry and the additional routes would require “an annual subsidy for weekday service of close to $10 million.”

The potential new stops would also require additional capital investment to construct docking stations which feature shelters, ticketing machines, benches, bike racks, and two-slip or single-slip barges.

Following the recent study, the possible ferry service expansion proposal will now be reviewed by local elected officials, leaders, private ferry companies and the community at large in order to discuss the specific new routes and how to fund them.

Currently the only East River Ferry stop in Queens is by Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City between 54th Avenue and 2nd Street.

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Developers close on Flushing Commons deal: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the near decade-old $850 million Flushing Commons project have closed on a deal to buy the parking lot where the housing and retail complex will be built, according to Crain’s.

TDC Development International, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management with financing from Starwood Property Trust purchased the site for $20 million, the business publication reported Wednesday.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

The 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, was slated to headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said.

It will now be built in the project’s second phase, Crain’s said, with more housing, commercial and community space.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, according to the NYCEDC.

 

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Department of Buildings reviewing Flushing Commons permit


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the long-stalled $850 million Flushing Commons project have filed their first permit with the city’s Department of Buildings, according to Crain’s and city officials.

A DOB spokesperson said the department received and will review an application from TDC Development International and The Rockefeller Group.

The near decade-old project will bring housing and retail to downtown Flushing but, according to Crain’s, construction has to begin by October 31, under a contract between the city and developers.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000- square-feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) said.

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

A 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, will headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said. The second phase includes more housing, commercial and community space.

Developers want to modify a portion of Municipal Lot 1 in downtown Flushing, though NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky said existing parking spaces would be maintained during construction.

There will be a total of 1,600 parking spaces — an increase of 500 — at the project’s completion, according to officials.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, the NYCEDC said.

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

 

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Concern in College Point over police tow pound


| mchan@queenscourier.com

College Point leaders fear crumbling roads in an already congested neighborhood will not be able to handle a new police tow pound that “magically appeared” out of nowhere.

State Senator Tony Avella said NYPD tow trucks have been bringing cars in and out of College Point Corporate Park for more than two weeks without first alerting the community.

“This is going to have a major impact on the local area,” he said. “You have tow trucks coming and going all hours of the day and night. You now have more congestion in that area.”

The 31-22 College Point Boulevard lot in the industrial, retail center is approximately 174,000 square feet, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

The NYCEDC oversees the corporate park but has not run the property in question since November 2012, the spokesperson said.

Local leaders said they know little about the use and duration of the operation. An NYPD spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

“This just magically appeared maybe three weeks ago,” said Andrew Rocco, president of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association. “Nobody was informed about it.”

Rocco said the tow pound would increase traffic on deteriorating roads marked with potholes. The area’s infrastructure also has to hold a new police academy currently being built, he said.

“There’s going to be 5,000 people coming in and out of there,” he said. “It’s just one insult after another.”

Avella said the tow pound is also operating without having gone through a lengthy vetting process called a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which seeks feedback from the community board, borough president, Planning Commission and City Council.

Community Board 7 declined to comment at this time.

“The streets are falling apart,” said Joe Femenia of College Point. “The idea of a corporate park is bringing in businesses. When you put in a municipal work there, it counts as zero.”

“They keep sticking things in this district,” Femenia said. “That’s a cause for concern.”

 

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Community Board wants more answers on Willets Point project


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee told developers of Willets Point they need to return with more answers on the proposed project before the board makes a decision.

Committee members particularly want more information about parking, traffic flow and transplanting the plethora of small business owners within the Iron Triangle.

Chuck Apelian, first vice chair and committee head, told development and city representatives things had to be done about existing infrastructure around the area, especially roads and sewers.

The joint venture, between Sterling Equities and Related, needs to go through a Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for a special permit to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a shopping center, dubbed “Willets West.”

Without the permit, the project could essentially not go through.

Since the massive shopping center next to Citi Field was added to the project, board members found a number of changes from the 2008 plan. To build Willets West, the Parks Department would amend its lease with Queens Ballpark Company, which would be mediated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

NYCEDC promised it would work to help retrain workers and relocate businesses on the 23 acres on now mostly city-owned land.

CB 7 chair Eugene Kelty had an issue with how NYCEDC was moving workers and the small businesses out of the area. Kelty said he needed more answers on the relocation, or he would vote against the plan.

“The money they make there, fixing those cars, feeds their families,” he told representatives.

Kelty said EDC told CB 7 five years ago that tenants would be relocated before the properties they rented were sold to the city.

But Thomas McKnight, an executive vice president for NYCEDC, now said the city cannot legally relocate renters without first buying the property from owners.

David Quart, senior vice president of development for NYCEDC, said the agency is working to help move tenant and partnering with The Cornerstone Group, a non-profit workplace training program, to re-educate workers.

CB 7 must give a recommendation on the permit application, followed by Borough President Helen Marshall. From there it goes to the Department of City Planning and then voted on by the City Council.

Should the joint venture make it through the ULURP, the developers can only go so far in development until new exit ramps are built for the Van Wyck Expressway.

The city has promised to foot the bill for the ramps, which would go up between 2021 and 2024 with an estimated $50 million cost at today’s rates. If the city does not hold up its end of the bargain, under any circumstance, affordable housing and other components of the plan will not go through, said Jesse Masyr, one of the lawyers representing the joint venture.

“If you’re asking what remedies we as a developer have if the city doesn’t build the ramps, the answer is none,” he said.

“We have confidence that the city will build the ramps. It’s part of the overall risk the joint venture is taking.”

CB 7’s Land Use Committee will meet with representatives next on Thursday, April 25.

 

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