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Developers delay Flushing Commons groundbreaking

Work is expected to begin on the long-awaited Flushing Commons project in early 2014. Photo courtesy TDC Development
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Shovels will not yet be hitting the ground on the $850 million Flushing Commons development project despite earlier plans for a fall 2013 start date, the city Economic Development Corp. said.

The project, which was initially rolled out eight years ago and faced three years of delays, should begin in early 2014, the EDC said. And though some reports suggested that ground would be broken by Oct. 31, an EDC spokesman said the agency would be closing the deal with the Rockefeller Group Development Corp. by January with a project start date set soon after.

The City Council initially approved the mixed-use project in 2010 when Rockefeller and TDC Development, part of a firm called F&T Group, joined with the EDC to build in the footprint of the 1,000-space Municipal Lot 1 between 37th and 39th avenues along Unions Street. The timeline, however, ran into financing trouble and the project was never launched.

“The new plan, which will maintain all existing parking spaces during construction, is the culmination of years of work to address community concerns,” said Seth Pinsky, former president of the EDC, earlier this year. “We now look forward to the start of this critical project that will create thousands of jobs and a major mixed-used destination, complete with open space and a brand-new YMCA.”

Pinksy stepped down from his post at the EDC in September.

The work is scheduled to occur in two phases, the EDC said, the first of which would include the construction of an underground parking garage with about 160 residential units, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA, 1.5 acres of open space and about 350,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Under the second phase another 450 residential units would be built as well as 15,000 square feet of community space and about 150,000 square feet of retail or commercial space.

“Flushing Commons will provide local jobs, retail opportunities, modern residential space and community benefits,” said Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing). “This development project will enhance our community and make Flushing a destination for everyone to enjoy.”

The project sparked some concerns from the northeast Queens community and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) fired off a letter to EDC President Kyle Kimball asking him if the city had adequate plans to alleviate any serious parking congestion in the project’s footprint. The lawmaker noted that hundreds of borough residents use Municipal Lot 1 every day to pick up and drop off passengers at a nearby subway stop.

“The major construction will create significant traffic concerns in the already-congested downtown Flushing,” Avella said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 12:00 am, November 8, 2013
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