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Point of View: 2005 looks to be good for Flushing economy

The Rockefeller group has reportedly set its sights on Flushing for real estate investment. A developer even seeks to make Flushing a town that could rival Chinatown in Lower Manhattan.Flushing and its neighbors, I am sure, are pleased with such a report that appeared recently in the New York Community Times. Conglomerates like the Rockefeller group without doubt can start the multimillion-dollar ball rolling.While we are unsure yet of the Rockefeller group's role, two gigantic projects are expected to rise between 37th and 39th avenues in the near future. In fact, one is already under way.The building that housed the former Queens County Savings Bank is coming down. Its owner, F & T International Group, is set to put up a 12-story commercial building called Queens Crossing. Something that I was concerned about, parking, is no longer a problem; the structure will have two underground levels for that purpose.To me, the best news is that a reputable bookstore like Barnes & Noble will be on the first floor. We badly need that type of store so we can rid ourselves of the image of Flushing as a thriving metropolis without an English bookstore.The last time I went to the Flushing Library it was filled to its capacity. I could hardly find a seat. A quality bookstore will surely draw a good number of browsers who used to go to the library.On the other hand, some of my friends are worried that few people would buy books or magazines at such a store as the bulk of Flushing's population are new arrivals from non-English-speaking countries. Therefore, any bookstore planning to branch out here ought to take local residents' language factor into consideration.Once the two sprawling projects are completed, nevertheless, a lot of professionals will presumably move into those brand new structures and share the booming pie this town can offer.The second project is the proposed conversion of the Municipal Parking Lot 1 into commercial high-rises. According to reports, the city is planning to sell the 5.5-acre lot between 37th and 39th avenues on Union Street. The city could get $80 million to $100 million from the sale or more since three developers have shown interest in that parcel of land.The soaring value of that property should be attributed to the rapid growth of immigrants. So a local group headed by City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) has expressed the hope that the city will give Flushing half the money from the sale. I support it.Why? Well, during the past four decades, the city has provided Flushing with little financial assistance. This town has long been considered a malnourished child. Now it's time for the city to show some care and respect for this child who promises a dynamic growth. So any excuse to ignore the town's call for profit sharing is unacceptable.In the meantime, I wish the town would use the windfall to improve its dilapidated infrastructure or create a multipurpose center.But I am strongly against a proposal to build a theater in the heart of the town. We already have had an upscale multiplex at the corner of the Linden Place and Whitestone Expressway overpass, walking distance from downtown.Realistically, we cannot afford to support two movie theaters within a half-mile radius. What's more, rental films are readily available, and people feel more comfortable watching them on wide-screen TVs at home than in a movie house.Besides, a new theater will definitely aggravate the town's parking problem, which is what we are trying relentlessly to solve.However, I do agree that the current number of 1,100 parking spots should remain intact. I wish more spaces could be added to the lot.You never know whether the new project owner or owners will turn the municipal lot into private lot and raise parking charges that may equal those in the city. If that is the case, then the town should enact a law prohibiting the new management from raising parking fees unjustifiably.As to the designs of the two projects, they look elegant and imposing, at least in papers. When completed, the new high-rises may pave the way for more skyscrapers in this part of the borough.There is no doubt in my mind, the two projects will further invigorate that bustling section of the town.

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