BY LYNN EDMONDS
After months of community outreach, the Department of City Planning shared their preliminary recommendations for the Flushing West neighborhood at the Queens Library’s Flushing branch last Wednesday.
Flushing West, bounded by Flushing Creek to the West, Prince Street to the east, Northern Boulevard to the north and Roosevelt Avenue to the south, is a neighborhood with an industrial legacy. In 2010, the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation secured a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant to develop a plan to improve the neighborhood. The LDC subcontracted the City to conduct the study, with a heavy emphasis on community involvement.
In line with discussions at previous meetings, city planning said they would aim to preserve and create affordable housing, as well as increase waterfront recreational opportunities along Flushing Creek.
The City’s zoning experts said that in order to make those goals a reality, they should zone for similar buildings to Downtown Flushing, require new streets connecting downtown with the waterfront, change waterfront access rules to increase the amount of public waterfront space and encourage the development of community facility spaces like daycares and senior centers.
Affordable housing in new area developments will be mandatory, in line with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary House Plan.
Residents also brought up the idea of building a bus terminal in the area, which would draw some of the congestion out of Downtown Flushing and provide busses and commuters with a place to wait.
Planners say their zoning recommendations would produce pedestrian-friendly streets with ground level businesses, rather than boxy towers with garage doors on the first floor.
“Instead of these small canyons of street with tall boxes, we’ll have wide-view corridors, we’ll finally have access from downtown flushing right down to the waterfront,” Alexandra Rosa, a project consultant for the LDC, said.
With Flushing’s average income is $39,800, as compared to Queens’ average of $57,001, the downtown area’s limited open space, and a creek that is subject to raw sewage dumps during heavy rain, it wasn’t a surprise that constituents wanted more affordable housing, open space and a cleaner creek.
But constituents also voiced additional concerns, Rosa said, such as an especially great need for senior housing and services. They also said they needed more urgent care centers, and they wanted bicycle paths and other ways to relieve traffic.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana