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Macedonia AME plans affordable apartment building

Plans to build a 14-story building with 140 affordable housing units, ground-floor retail space, a day-care center and church on the site of downtown Flushing’s Macedonia AME Church are moving forward rapidly.

Construction is expected to begin on the project in the fall of 2011 and in 2012 people will start moving into Macedonia Plaza, a tax-subsidized project whose progress has been obscured in recent weeks by that of Flushing Commons, a larger, mixed-use development project located in the same area.

Macedonia, being built by the Macedonia Church Development Corp., a group formed by Macedonia AME Church, is designed to provide affordable homes for young professionals, starter families and people with disabilities.

Macedonia AME Church has been in the same location at 37-22 Union St. for 199 years and its pastor, Rev. Richard McEachern, said the building will offer quality, subsidized-rent homes to teachers, police officers and other lower-income professionals in the Flushing area as well as a new building for his congregation.

Monetary details of the project, such as how much the city will sell the land for, are still being discussed.

Some meeting attendees expressed concerns that the church corporation would simply build the project, sell it for a windfall and skip town. McEachern countered that line of thought by pointing to the congregation’s long history in the community.

“We have been here for 200 years, we hope to be here another 200 years, and let me just put to bed that we’re trying to do this to make a big profit.”

The project, which was the only topic of discussion at last Thursday evening’s Community Board 7 meeting, will offer studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments to eligible applicants through a lottery system.

Applicants will be required to earn 60 percent or less of the area’s median income, which means a family of four will need to earn less than $47,520 per year to qualify, according to the city Housing Department. A percentage will be reserved for people with disabilities and a large portion will go to current Community Board 7 residents.

The rent will be subsidized through sources including the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which will help keep the units within the reach of lower- to middle-class residents.

“Who is this housing targeted for? This is for the young people getting out of college who are beginning their careers and who can’t afford to live in downtown Flushing,” said Irving Poy, director of planning and development for Borough President Helen Marshall.

“There is a citywide need for affordable, low-income housing for working families, and we hope this will help us get closer to that number we are working to reach,” Shampa Chanda, director of citywide planning in the Housing Department’s Planning and Pipeline Development Division.

CB 7 will host more frequent meetings in coming months to discuss Macedonia, Flushing Commons and residents’ concerns about the projects. The board’s next meeting will be the evening of Feb. 10 and will only address parking-related issues since the construction of the two projects is expected to exacerbate parking woes by a large degree.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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