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Flushing Christian group wants benefits from lot sale

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Instead, a group of ministers and active Christians that formed a group to take a stand on the Municipal Lot's development said Friday the city owes the Flushing community space, half of the money it makes off the land sale and more affordable parking than currently exists at the 1,100-spot lot.The group, called the Committee of Concerned Christians of Queens, made its demands known at a public meeting in St. George's Church Friday on Main Street in downtown Flushing. It is comprised of about a dozen leaders, mostly Asian men from various Christian organizations and churches such as the Metropolitan Chinese Christian Churches Association and the New York Christian Workers Institute."There is certainly a lot of talk about how much the city will get," said Tien Tan, an attorney who spoke on behalf of the group. "I don't think the focus point of this issue is what the people want. We think the people of the community deserve to benefit from the sale of this land."The development of Municipal Lot 1 has been the most highly politicized issue in Flushing in the past year and marks the first time Flushing residents have been this actively involved in the economic growth of their downtown. Elected officials met several times when development proposals were drawn up last year to let the city Economic Development Corp. know that Flushing would not tolerate a decrease in parking spaces.Last February, the EDC was allowing developers to submit plans with only about 800 spots vs. the 1,100 that exist there today.Through public meetings held by Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and former state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik, it became evident that Flushing residents wanted affordable parking spaces, a community center for teenagers, a chain bookstore and perhaps even a movie theater.Liu asked at one point that the city put control of the parking spaces in the hands of the Business Improvement District instead of the developer. Community Board 7 passed a nearly unanimous resolution in December asking for the city to re-invest the money from the property sale into the downtown Flushing community.A week after CB 7 passed that resolution, members of the Flushing Chinese Business Association echoed their sentiments at a public meeting.The EDC promised to announce a whittled-down list of developers by last fall but postponed that date several times before confirming this week that the agency had selected three finalists. An EDC spokeswoman refused to divulge which developers were still in the running for the coveted job of developing the centrally located lot.The members of CCCQ began circulating a petition Friday at the meeting asking that at least half of the proceeds from the land sale be invested in a non-profit community center. That community center, CCCQ members said, should take up about 5 percent of the development that is built on Municipal Lot 1. They did not specify what type of center they would like to see there."The beauty of this is we are not partisan," Rev. David Tsang said. "I just want business to be handled purely, cleanly with no interests, no strings attached -- only for the interests of the people."Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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