The developer of an upcoming medical facility on Barclay Avenue in Flushing is clashing with the local community over parking.
The property, 150-15 Barclay Ave. in Flushing, belongs to HDL Management, and is slated to be a 15,000-square-foot, five-story medical arts facility. Under the law, the building is required to provide a minimum of 50 parking spaces as part of the 15,000 square feet. But the developers are seeking a special permit that exists for medical buildings to reduce the required number of spots to 25. Community members argue that the area, which has multiple schools, churches and narrow streets, is already very congested, and that a parking reduction would force patrons of the new facility out into the community.
The application is currently going through the Board of Standards and Appeals process and was presented to Borough President Melinda Katz at a public-land use hearing at Borough Hall last week. Community Board 7 disapproved the parking-reduction proposal at the beginning of September.
At the land-use meeting, lawyer Eric Palatnik, who represents HDL Management, said that the developers were working on revising the plan, per the recommendations of the Board of Standards and Appeals. He explained that the facility was a response to a dearth of medical facilities in the area. Community Board 7 chair Gene Kelty criticized this point at the September meeting.
“You’re making that statement when I got two giant hospitals and every other corner has a medical facility on it?” asked Kelty at the meeting when a member of Palatnik’s team raised the point. “You’re not choking on your tongue making that statement?”
Palatnik defended the point then, and continued to do so at the land-use hearing. He explained that HDL Management believes it had been getting harder for doctors to survive independently, and that bigger facilities like this allowed doctors to pool their resources.
To that point, Palatnik pointed out to Katz that the community concern was not centered on the facility, but the parking.
“We’re proposing 25 spaces, and I think that’s a lot of the concern for the neighborhood and the people that are here today,” Palatnik told Katz, referencing community advocates who attended the land-use hearing. “I don’t think anybody here is against having a medical [building] in the community; I don’t think anybody is against the property owner. I know they’ve met, they’ve spoken. I haven’t seen any animosity.”
Palatnik then cited a study done by Hiram Rothkrug, which was also featured at the community board meeting. The study shows that at any moment, demand for parking at the facility would be around 25, with a few hours when the demand would reach about 29—an excess that could be supported via street parking, said Palatnik. He added that the facility expects six or seven doctors, 15 staff members and a peak of 30 to 40 patients at any time.
“They may not be the easiest spaces to get, but there are spaces,” he said, adding that the medical facility would be half the size without the parking reduction.
Samuel Park is the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Flushing, which is just across the street from the site. He spoke on behalf of the community at both the Community Board 7 meeting and the land-use meeting.
At the land-use meeting, Park explained that there were two schools—the K-8 Flushing Christian School and P.S. 22—in the immediate area, that send kids running in the street at the end of the day and crowd the narrow roads with buses. He said that his church also hosts after-school programs as well as a food pantry, which brings food trucks to the area that also add to congestion. Coupled with the nearby Murray Hill Long Island Railroad Station, which attracts commuters looking for parking, Park said his biggest concern is safety, and that more congestion on the streets might put the area’s school children in danger.
“We’re just saying if it was a suburban area where there is no traffic, you can possibly reduce parking, but I would actually think you would need more parking than 50,” Park told Katz.
He also reiterated to both Katz and the Queens Tribune that he was not against the facility.
“We strongly suggest that they meet the legal requirement for 50 parking spaces for a building that’s 15,000 square feet, and that’s all we want to really voice,” he said. “Congestion is a concern; a medical facility building is not.”
Many members of the community came out to the community board meeting last month to voice opposition. Community Board 7 passed a movement to deny the application by a margin of 35 to 3.
Some community members who spoke to the Queens Tribune did not share Park’s feeling that the only problem at hand was the parking.
Al Antretter, 76, who volunteers at the nearby Veterans of Foreign Wars post, called the current parking situation “absurd.”
“Sometimes I sit around here for an hour and I can’t find a spot,” he said. He also cited a residential development being built down the block and added that the facility was adding too much to the area. “Parking is number one, but the building is not good either,” he added.
At the land-use hearing, Katz expressed confusion as to how this one facility would add problems to an already-crowded area, but added that she still needed to visit the site and understood the concerns.
“Normally people don’t want a medical facility and parking lots because it’s a quiet area; there’s no traffic; they don’t want folks coming in and out; they appreciate the small community that they live in; and the fact that it’s quieter,” she said.
HDL Management could not be reached for comment.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.