BY JOE MARVILLI
After years of discussions and delays, the Flushing Commons project finally broke ground this week.
On June 30, several stakeholders, elected officials and community leaders met in the heart of downtown Flushing for the groundbreaking ceremony. Set on the former site of Municipal Lot 1, many comments from the event were about the transformative impact the $1 billion development will have on the neighborhood.
The project will turn a 5.5-acre parcel of land into a mixture of residential housing, commercial space, retail, community facilities and a 1,600-space public parking garage. The LEED-certified structure will be completed in two phases to reduce any disruptions.
“Flushing Commons owes its origins to the community leaders, who over 12 years ago, went to the City to seek support in redeveloping this dynamic community,” Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development at F&T Group, said. “This project that will transform Flushing is a result of that initiative and is thus a model of what public-private partnerships can accomplish.”
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) also praised Flushing Commons for getting off the ground. She promised to help community members who may be affected by the development.
“No great and big project is perfect, but we will continue to partner together to make sure that the interests of as many people in our community are taken care of,” she said.
Phase 1 will have about 219,000-square-feet of office and retail space, 150 units of housing and a 982-space parking lot. This portion of the project is aiming for an early 2017 completion. Phase 2 will construct 242,000-square-feet of office and retail space, 450 residential units, 618 parking spaces, a YMCA recreational facility and a 1.5-acre public plaza. This final part of Flushing Commons has a completion date of 2021.
Now that the groundbreaking has taken place, construction will begin in earnest, with 2,600 union construction jobs being used for the work.
Borough President Melinda Katz said that the project shows how Queens is becoming an attractive opportunity for investors.
“This is about Flushing Commons but this is also about the Borough of Queens. This is about the fact that we have investments that are coming into our Borough,” she said. “Isn’t that a great thing for our Borough?”
The $900 million investment is expected to create 1,900 permanent jobs at Flushing Commons, including high-quality building service jobs as part of the developer’s agreement with SEIU 32BJ.
“Once this project is completed, it will play a significant role in cementing Flushing’s transformation into an economic power center of Queens,” Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said.
In response to concerns about the impact construction would have on nearby small businesses, the City Economic Development Corporation and local elected officials created a $2.5 million small business assistance fund, administered by Asian Americans for Equality.
John Choe, of One Flushing, said his organization will help local businesses near the site.
“We still have a lot of concerns about the impact on mom-and-pop stores and local merchants in the surrounding neighborhood,” he said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to assist and support the local business community.”
To keep up with the Flushing Commons construction, visit www.flushingcommonsupdates.com.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.