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Rezonings aid boro’s economy, official says

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Young spoke at the LaGuardia Marriott about how recent rezonings will strengthen regional business districts in Long Island City, Flushing and Jamaica, and the plans for Willets Point.While Long Island City was rezoned in 2001, City Planning still keeps an eye on it."We see this as a vibrant new living and working area," he said of the neighborhood and outlined landscaping plans for Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue, extending as far as the waterfront in the one direction and to the Citigroup tower in the other."We see this as fostering new development," Young said. "Later this spring we will be implementing new housing, with 1,000 new middle-income units from the southern tip of Hunter's Point moving north."For Flushing, Young said, the challenge is to renew, reconnect and revitalize the waterfront and redevelop Willets Point."We really see this waterfront as a place that can be much more a place to walk, to gather," Young said of Flushing and Willets Point. The environmental review is under way, and the public review process is to begin in early 2008, he said."The major component will be housing, along with retail, entertainment and a hotel," Young said. Rounding out the anticipated construction there are to be a convention center, 5,500 residential units, 500,00 square feet of office space and 1 million square feet of retail and entertainment space.At the end of Young's presentation, two of the three questions zeroed in on housing and new businesses.On the topic of housing, a representative of DY Realty Services asked Young about the expiration of the city's 421a tax incentive program for developers that creates 20 percent low-income housing in some areas when luxury stock is built. "You talk about building housing units. With the expiration of 421a at the end of the year, will we see it come to a screeching halt?" he asked.Young seemed optimistic about the borough's housing prospects."As the economy rebounds, people will rebound, and they'll be able to utilize [such programs] in a fair way," he said.City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who shared the dais with Young, added a few words about 421a."The Council put in a proposal for 421a, but it has to go to the state [for approval] and because they're so dysfunctional there, we're still waiting," Comrie said. "We're looking to create a new subsidy program because Queens' market value is so high."Another man asked Young what businesses were expected to move into Queens' new office space with manufacturing on the decline."The city has done a full business and industrial assessment. We see the competition the city has by national and international businesses," Young said. As a result, he said, the city planned to zone new office space near the airports to facilitate transportation of goods and services.Young said the city envisioned "financial services, educational services, health services will continue to be big as the population grows and ages."

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