BY JOE MARVILLI
Although it has yet to break ground, the Flushing Commons project is due to cause headaches for Queens drivers starting next week.
Given that the Flushing Commons complex is going to take over Municipal Parking Lot 1, found between Union Street and 138th Street as well as 37th and 39th Avenues, the Dept. of Transportation has handed control of the lot over to a private company, Standard Parking. As a result, drivers can expect to pay more to park on the lot.
Rather than paying a quarter for 15 minutes, rates will now be $3 per hour, $4 for two hours, $5 for three hours, $15 for eight hours and $16 for 24 hours. At the moment, parking is reportedly free as the lot switches hands, though that will end on Jan. 15, when the new rates go into effect.
The temporarily free parking is meant to give drivers time to adjust to the new prices, according to Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing).
“Municipal Lot 1 is no longer under City control and is now being run by a private entity. As such, the new parking rates will be in line with other private parking facilities in the area,” Koo said in a statement. “To ease constituents into this transition, I led the efforts to make parking free at this location until Jan. 15.”
Some community leaders were not pleased with the increase in pricing for the lot, which is widely-used by the community and frequently filled to capacity.
“The chairperson [Eugene Kelty Jr.] was not very happy about the rates. He said they were too high,” Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, said.
The developers of Flushing Commons, Rockefeller Development Corporation of Manhattan and TDC Development and Construction Corporation, had to push back the start date for construction from last fall, in order to close on a $20 million purchase of the municipal lot. Phase one is due to start construction this year.
About 160 residential units, 350,000- square-feet of retail or commercial space, an underground parking garage, one-and-a-half acres of open space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater and a new 62,000 square foot YMCA will be built in the first phase.
Phase two will see the development of 450 residential units, 150,000 square feet of retail or commercial space and 15,000-square-feet of community space. The second phase does not have a start date at the moment.
While the municipal lot has 1,020 spaces, making it the largest in Queens, the development plans to add 500 more parking spaces once construction is complete.
Monthly parking permits are available for the lot, with rates being accessible by calling (877) 876-2927. The pricing is ranges between more than $100 and $235, making it comparable to Queens municipal lot permit prices.
Business leaders said it was too early to tell how the price increase would impact businesses in downtown Flushing.
“We don’t know yet. The lower parking rate is disappearing in downtown Flushing,” Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said. “Only time will tell.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.