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CB7 delays vote on Main Street development

Attorney Richard Lobel presents a proposal for a 180,000-square-foot Main Street development at a Community Board 7 meeting Monday night. Photo by Alex Robinson
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Community Board 7 members expressed reservations about a proposed mixed-use development in downtown Flushing before deciding to delay a vote to approve the proposal Monday night.

The proposed development is a 180,000-square-foot complex on Main Street, across the street from the RKO Theatre that would house a hotel, spa, parking structure and office space. The proposal includes a 12-story tower, where the hotel would be, and a 14-story tower for office space.

Attorney Richard Lobel presented the proposal to the board and asked it to approve a variance that would let developer CA Plaza build the parking structure and allow it to use one of the towers, which is zoned as a medical building, for office space.

“We like this proposal because the bulk of the application is reasonable and we think it’s a reasonable size for the building,” said Lobel, who compared the proposal to that of the landmarked RKO Theatre, which asked for 320,000 square feet.

CB 7 members voted to approve a permit for the spa by a vote of 22-9 and also voted to approve waiving height restrictions imposed by airports as the development would be within close proximity to LaGuardia Airport. The Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration had already given permission for the latter.

Board members, however, unanimously voted to delay a vote to allow the variance on parking and the changed use of the building until its next meeting.

CB 7 members’ main concern was that the location of the hotel’s entrance could cause traffic problems on Prince Street. Although loading can be done on site, board members were concerned vehicles turning into the hotel would block up a street in downtown Flushing which already sees heavy traffic.

“I know Prince Street is going to be backed up,” said CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty. “Where that building is is going to be a problem.”

CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian expressed disappointment with the developer’s traffic presentation.

“I don’t think this has been thought through,” he said. “I’d like to support the project, but I’m not. It’s not there yet.”

“Some more thought needs to go into this before we say yes,” he added.

Several other members added their voices to the growing calls of concern with the proposal before the board decided the vote should be delayed. The proposal will now be sent back to the community board’s Land Use Committee for further consideration before a vote at the next board meeting.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 12:48 am, November 28, 2013
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