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The developer behind the $500 million Flushing Commons project said this week he believes plans to redevelop Municipal Lot 1 can be resurrected from the real estate graveyard, but his enthusiasm is not shared by City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing).
Flushing Commons has been mired in delays for more than three years — leading Liu to call the project dead last year. But TDC President Michael Meyer said this week the firm hopes to present a new vision for the development in the near future.
Though he refuted a published report that the development firm and its partner, the Rockefeller Group, would begin the public approval process for Flushing Commons Nov. 17, Meyer remained bullish on the project’s prospects.
“We are working diligently with our partners in the New York City Economic Development Corp. to finalize our plans for Flushing Commons and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with Councilman Liu and other local leaders to ensure that this project is an unqualified success and a positive addition to the Flushing community,” Meyer said.
“While there has been some recent public speculation regarding the project’s timing and other specifics — and while we certainly do anticipate beginning the city’s formal review process soon — these exact details are still being worked out in partnership with EDC and local leaders,” said Meyer.
Reached for comment, Liu, who has said he does not believe the public support for the project exists, was far from optimistic.
“You would need to put this project on Frankenstein’s table to get it back on track,” he said. “They’ve been saying they have been working with the EDC for three years now.”
TDC’s initial plans called for mixed−use development, featuring 500 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space, a 50,000−square−foot youth center and 2,000 below−market rate parking spaces, all of which surrounded a town square−style plaza.
Once hailed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a project that “would set the tone” for development in the community for years to come, rising construction costs forced TDC to make substantial changes to its plan, such as eliminating the youth center and increasing the price of parking.
Community dissent was prevalent following the announced changes, particularly because the project would replace the main source of low−cost parking in Flushing: the 1,100−space Municipal Lot 1.
TDC said it believes its altered plan will adequately address community concerns and make the project a reality.
“We remain extremely excited about this project and are confident that the plans we will be able to share in the near future both respect our original Flushing Commons vision and are wholly achievable within this ever−changing economic environment,” Meyer said.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, ext. 138.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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