Former Borough President Claire Shulman, who has been lobbying hard for the project as head of the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp., spoke to the board about the promise she believes the planned multibillion-dollar redevelopment of the 60-acre site would bring to the area. "This is a critical project that will reshape all of northern Queens," Shulman said. Announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in May, the city's plan would turn the hardscrabble collection of auto-repair shops, scrap yards and contracting companies into a mixed use development featuring thousands of housing units and more than a million square feet of retail and office space.Once Shulman finished speaking, the conversation quickly changed from one of promise to one of concern as several CB 7 members expressed their worries over the project and how the city has handled it thus far. CB 7 Land Use Committee Chairman Chuck Apelian said he does not understand why the city has not presented the board with a concrete plan for the project ahead of the start of the Uniformed Land Use Procedure Process, which is slated to begin at the end of February. Because Willets Point falls within the boundaries of Community Board 7, it is the only community board that will officially be able to give its recommendations for the plan before it goes to the borough president, City Planning and the City Council for approval. "We never really have known what the city's intention really is here," Apelian told Shulman.Shulman said any unanswered questions will be put to rest at a town hall meeting being held on Jan. 29 at PS 127 in East Elmhurst at 7 p.m., where the city's Economic Development Corporation will give a full update on the plan.Apelian and CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty also said they were concerned that the Willets Point project would further delay three rezoning plans - the Waldheim-Holly, North Flushing and Auburndale rezonings - which have each been waiting for City Planning review for several years. Shulman said she believes the Waldheim-Holly rezoning could be completed in the coming year, but said other other two may be forced to wait longer. "We will try to get you what you want, but don't hold up Willets Point for that reason. Willets Point is a critical project," Shulman said. "You have an edge, but [Willets Point] is not on the same page as what you've been saying." Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@
©2008 Community News Group
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