LIRR eyes eminent domain to renovate Flushing station

A rendering shows what the future Flushing Long Island Railroad stop might look like -- a far cry from the poorly marked staircase currently used to access the Manhattan-bound track. Rendering courtesy MTA
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The Long Island Rail Road is moving forward with improvements to its downtown Flushing station, which includes plans to quietly seize private property through eminent domain.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced in March 2012 it would be installing elevators at the neglected station, which is not currently wheelchair accessible, as part of an $8.5 million improvement project.

The agency will soon begin structural inspections on the LIRR overpass and has cleared out a popular food stall that operated under the Main Street overpass, according to spokesman Aaron Donovan.

“We’re glad to be taking concrete steps to move forward on this project, which will improve access to the station, in particular to those customers who are disabled,” he said.

But the MTA is also planning on seizing private property just north of the tracks along the western side of Main Street, according to condemnation lawyer Michael Rikon, who is familiar with the situation and has been consulted by the property owner.

Eminent domain, the process by which the government takes private property for public works projects, had not previously been mentioned by MTA in connection with the project.

But access to the Manhattan-bound tracks is currently limited to a narrow, dingy staircase off 40th Road with hardly enough room to squeeze in an elevator.

The authority said it is considering using eminent domain in the hopes of making the station more visible and inviting to commuters, and released a rendering to showing a gleaming staircase accessible from Main Street where the shuttered grocery store now stands.

Rikon said the MTA’s use of eminent domain to seize the property is justified, since transportation is a valid public purpose. The authority could obtain a title to the property within a month, he said. But after construction commences, the rest of the condemnation process could take a few years.

The MTA had already purchased a small food stall called AA Plaza, partially beneath the LIRR overpass on Main Street, and tenants there vacated Sept. 1.

Eventually the LIRR also hopes to replace the lighting and railing on the platform and will install embossed yellow warning tiles near the edge of the platform, although a concrete timeline for completion was not available.

Community groups have long criticized the MTA for failing to maintain the station, which John Choe, director of neighborhood nonprofit One Flushing, said is littered with garbage, poorly marked and dimly lit at night.

“A lot of people express shock when I tell them there is an LIRR station in downtown Flushing,” he said. “Flushing is not a podunk little village out in the middle of nowhere. We are the fourth-largest economic district in the city. We produce a huge amount of revenue for the entire city, yet we are treated like second-class citizens with regard to our transportation infrastructure.”

Choe and his nonprofit are planning to paint a mural over some of the graffitied portions of the station later this month in an effort to both beautify the neighborhood and urge the MTA to begin planned improvements.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

John C. Liu from Flushing says:
If the constituents of Flushing had any sense public etiquette then perhaps they would not be looked down up by civilized society. Regardless of revenue generation and economic prosperity, if residents continue to act like they do in China, there will be neither recognition nor respect for Flushing. Please learn that this is America, specifically New York; it's no longer a backwater village where you can litter, spit, and squat at your pleasure. If you'd like to continue acting uncivilized and unassimilated, please leave and take your dirty habits with you. The first step to being a first class citizen is acting like one.
Sept. 13, 2013, 3:56 pm
John Adams from Flushing says:
Bravo to John C Liu, the smell of downtown Flushing is awful , people spitting on the sidewalks and littering all over the place.

Flushing was a great place to live before this litter problem.
Sept. 13, 2013, 8:59 pm
John Hancock from Flushing says:
I'd rather have the smells, then the thugs and gangs from 30 years ago.
Sept. 14, 2013, 10:54 am
Francis.Lewis from Flushing says:
I used to be so proud living in Flushing. I remember 2 theaters, a book store and Alexander's! Now its just a ghetto with tons of undocumented people who have diseased the streets of my town. Yes my town, cuz i remember robbins, play world and ( i didn't know what this place was then) Jolly Joint. I avoid like the plague and eat and shop else where for Chinese food. I am after all old school Chinese American.
Sept. 14, 2013, 8:34 pm
clueless from flushing says:
The main attraction of part of flushing is the dirt and the edge and the character, much of which has made it a hot destination place. I personally prefer the grit and edge. If you renovated Williamsburg you would see how fast people would vacate and the economy would tank. To equivocate cleanliness with the pretentiousness of fake *class* you demoralize the authenticity of the neighborhood and insult its community. Dirty and run down is not a bad thing. Ripping out AA plaza is a disgrace and the MTA tore out a big piece of Flushing‘s homegrown charm and character. Look what happened to Chinatown no one goes there anymore because it sucks. If you want sterile chic restaurants and high class you can build it elsewhere like near Sky View. That is what the free market is for. This is a travesty and no body wants it. No one is even going to use an elevator there it will be overrun by weeds.
Oct. 7, 2013, 10:22 pm
Sam Adams from Sunnyside says:
"If you'd like to continue acting uncivilized and unassimilated, please leave and take your dirty habits with you. The first step to being a first class citizen is acting like one."

Being a first class citizen means being humble, tolerant and gentle, not arrogant.
Oct. 7, 2013, 11:31 pm
Eddie from flushing main st says:
its a shame who to blame but look back to your fore fathers who brought you into this gods given country and put a golden spoon in your mouth and now that your life is at ease you think it your solution

you forgot about your grand parents who wipe your butt and given you the advantage where you can speak your mind

now lets see when its time up you reach there age

Love that place cheap convienient and well respected in the community not outsider criticizm
Feb. 26, 2014, 12:41 pm
Old Flushing from Flushing says:
If you go to TD bank in Flushing, you'll see for yourself what Flushing used to be like.............Even 30 years ago it was way better. Somehow we're going backwards in quality with skyrocket housing prices. Someone help! Target? BestBuy? Do something and say something to the politicians for us. But concurrently, please "our people," be civilized and act responsibly towards your own "yard." Stop the spitting, smoking, garbage, J-walking.
March 31, 2014, 3:59 pm
Rafick from Flushing says:
It is amazing that most people that seem to be downgrading "Flushing" are only referring to the downtown area, do you really think this small area encompasses Flushing as a whole? As some of you so called "old timers" that used to live Flushing and I assume now having the money to own in Manhasset and Port Washington "sarcastic chuckle"

A lot of you are oblivious to the fact that North Flushing/Bowen Park Area and the Auburndale section which borders Bayside is a gem, buying in those areas starts at a minimum of $600K for a detached family house. Scenic suburban views!

and YES, I do agree about the downtown areabeing disgusting and I avoid it at all costs, in fact Flushing is not considered my place of permanent residence but not because of those comments, because it is simply isnt an area of my liking or preference. So, please lets all stop labeling flushing as only the "Main Street" Area thank you.
Sept. 16, 2014, 7:33 pm

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