Rendering: FWRA LLC
Plans to rezone parts of the Flushing waterfront to make way for a 13-tower mixed-use development were approved by the New York City Council on Thursday. The approval of the zoning changes and the project, which calls for 1,725 units of housing, a hotel, offices, and retail space across 29 acres, came after elected officials reached an agreement this week with union groups SEIU 32BJ and the Hotels Trade Council to provide good-paying jobs for service workers, as well as hire public housing residents in the area.
Courtesy of Department of City Planning
“We are extremely pleased that this rezoning comes with a commitment to provide prevailing wage jobs for the building service workers,” Kyle Bragg, president of SEIU 32BJ, said in a press release. “Now more than ever, working people in Flushing need employment opportunities with family-sustaining wages, quality healthcare, and retirement security. We believe that the building service jobs created by the Special Flushing Waterfront District will be critical to ensuring an inclusive recovery in Queens that lifts up frontline workers and their families.”
The proposed Special Flushing Waterfront District is being led by three developers, F&T Group, United Construction and Development Group Inc., and Young Nian Group, under the name FWRA LLC. The development borders the Flushing Creek and is bound by the Van Wyck Expressway, College Point Boulevard, and Roosevelt Avenue.
The developers propose bringing 1,725 units of housing, 879-key hotel, 400,000 square feet of office space, nearly 287,000 square feet of retail, parking, and increasing public access to the Flushing Creek waterfront with a new walkway and plaza.
In the plan, just up to 90 of the planned apartments would be designated affordable under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. But Council Member Peter Koo on Thursday said the developers will work with officials in the coming years to maximize affordable housing at site 4, where about 300 units are planned.
In June, a group of local organizations including the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, the MinKwon Center for Community Action, and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit against the City Planning Commission and the Department of City Planning, claiming the officials did not conduct a full environmental review.
John Park, the executive director of the MinKwon Center, said the top concern for Flushing residents is a lack of affordable housing in the neighborhood. “In 2016, NYC Council Member Peter Koo vowed publicly to not support any development unless it included affordable housing priced at 40% AMI (area median income), yet the affordable housing in the current SFWD proposal is priced at 80% AMI — twice the median income of Flushing residents!” Park said in a June statement.
“This development is not centered on the interests and concerns of the neighborhood, evidenced by past community-led research and statements by elected officials, and the overwhelming number of people testifying against SFWD before CB7 and Queens Borough President Sharon Lee at their public hearings.”
Developers expected the project to be completed in 2025, but the coronavirus pandemic has likely delayed the timeline.
“The City Council vote in favor of the Special Flushing Waterfront District provides a better future for Flushing when needed most,” FWRA LLC said in an emailed statement to 6sqft. “We are so appreciative of the Council Members who have recognized the importance of 3,700+ permanent jobs, a new traffic-alleviating public road network, affordable housing, a publicly accessible waterfront, $164+ million in projected annual tax revenue and much more for the Flushing community and New York City at large contributing to the City’s collective economic recovery.”
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All renderings courtesy of FWRA LLC unless otherwise noted
Neighborhoods : Flushing