As a concerned observer, I shall be happy to see anything that would brighten Flushing's image.Actually, the westward expansion plan is not new. It's mainly about the reconstruction of Willets Point. The city and planners have talked about such an expansion for three years. They should put their talk into action this time around.What's partially new is Muss Development's Flushing waterfront project that features a six high-rise residential and commercial complex covering a 725,000-square-foot area at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Contrary to its name, this mammoth project is several hundred yards away from the waterfront.The project's panorama looks imposing on paper. I hope the plan will soon get off the drawing board. Its implementation may change our neighbors' perception about Flushing and make this thriving town even more diverse and prosperous.According to local media, developers also plan to renovate the long-closed RKO Keith's Theater on Main Street and Northern Boulevard, making it a plush, 18-story building. Sounds fascinating.More than once, I have written about this dilapidated structure and the vacant Caldor department store and called on the town and developers to do something about them. No action, regrettably. To me, it's an on-again, off-again topic. I am kind of skeptical of the report until I see a wrecking ball tearing down its facade.Meanwhile, two gigantic projects are going to rise in downtown Flushing. One will be a 12-story building on the site of the former Queens County Savings Bank, which already has come down.The other is the city-owned Municipal Parking Lot No. 1. Developers may soon turn it into another sprawling high-rise. The conversion would doubtless aggravate the congested traffic for a couple of years, sending motorists to scramble for those limited street parking spots with restrictions.Before breaking ground for the project, the city must address two issues Flushing residents initiated.First, the city must distribute a major portion of the proceeds from the sale of that property to the town, which in turn should divvy up the windfall with local civic institutions such as churches and the business improvement district, leaving enough to fund the construction of a badly needed multipurpose civic center for its rapidly growing population.Recently, the Committee of the Concerned Christians of Queens (a multi-ethnic group) has kicked off a campaign to promote public awareness about the land sale. They have petitioned relentlessly for a fair share of the profit pie and collected more than 3,000 signatures for that purpose. They need funds to upgrade their decayed church facilities.It was widely reported that the parking lot is worth more than $80 million. This booming town without a doubt has boosted the land value. The bottom line: The city should share the proceeds with the town.Second, either the business improvement district or CB 7, not the developers, should have control over the 1,100 existing parking spaces and set the meter-parking fees following the completion of the project.I don't understand why developers and conglomerates would shun Caldor, an enormous building in the best section. It's a terrible waste of valuable property, isn't it? There is perhaps a reason.Other construction projects on a smaller scale are pulsing through the town. By now you can see new apartment buildings mushrooming on almost every street, road and avenue in Flushing. But they are not cheap at all in terms of prices. As a matter of fact, some are priced out of the reach of middle-class house-hunters.A few apartment buildings now under construction at the corner of Prince Street will each sell for $3 million. I wish I were misinformed about this shocking price tag.Despite the construction boom, the skyrocketing prices apparently slow sales.I have lately driven around this region and found that some new apartment buildings were sparsely occupied. As the interest rate trend has begun to go north, speculative deals could create a backlash. Beware, prospective buyers!Here's a case in point. Five months ago, a realtor put up a "sold'' signboard in front of a yet-to-be completed duplex in College Point, also a fast-growing town. Two months later, that word was replaced with "for sale.'' Why? The building may be overpriced or its buyer reneged on the deal because of the soaring loan rates.The housing market, nevertheless, is expected to stay healthy at least in this part of the state because Flushing is the destination of many new immigrants.
©2005 Community News Group