Unveil Flushing Improvement Plan, Monserrate Asks To Include Corona
The Bloomberg mayoral administration announced a far-reaching redevelopment plan for Flushing last week which has broad local support, but City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, who represents neighboring Corona, asserts the plan "marks a step in the right direction," but nonetheless declared he would like to see some additions to it.
Monserrate (D–Corona) said he and his constituents had concerns that the plan would "fall short of our expectations by failing to provide local community residents with affordable housing, economic investment opportunities, employment and other socioeconomic opportunities accruing from this project."
Monserrate made several proposals for inclusion in the plan that addressed his concerns and that broaden it substantially to include Corona.
The city’s proposal was unveiled on Tuesday by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, the administration’s economic development chief, before about 100 community and business leaders at Flushing Town Hall.
Doctoroff described a plan that basically centers on three areas: Downtown Flushing, the Flushing River waterfront and Willets Point.
Revitalizing the Flushing River waterfront has also been addressed by Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing) who foresees a great opportunity to attract recreational and entertainment development, particularly restaurants that would make the area a special round-the-clock community.
According to Doctoroff, the city’s proposals range from making Main Street, the area’s main thoroughfare, into a one-way street; improving the Main Street, Long Island Rail Road terminal and adding a Prince Street entrance to the Main Street subway terminal.
Another integral part of the development plan calls for creating a mixed use development for the municipal parking lot on Union Street and 39th Street. Toward this end, the city will issue a request for proposals early next year.
As for Willets Point opposite Shea Stadium, the city will have to tackle the monumental problem of relocating some 100 auto junk yard-related businesses. Over a long period, this problem has proved insoluble, in part because it may require a long, drawn-out court fight for the city to acquire this large number of businesses by eminent domain. The cost to eliminate the eyesore could amount to more than $100 million.
The ultimate replacement proposal could transform the junk yards into a large-scale development to pump up the economic potential of the area. The city will seek ideas from developers regarding the area next year.
Monserrate also had Willets Point in mind as he looked over Doctoroff’s proposal. First off, he wants to define the project not only as a Flushing redevelopment plan but as the "Downtown Flushing, Willets Point–Corona Redevelopment Plan." In addition, as his plan title suggests, Monserrate wants the plan to include the surrounding community of Corona.
As reported earlier, Monserrate would like the plan to address job development and creation of affordable housing for local community residents and businesses. He also wants more open space and recreational areas created to improve the quality of life.
Monserrate said he will be working with city planners and the mayor’s office in the coming months, as well as the private and public sector to ensure that the needs and concerns of local people will be heard and integrated into "this exciting and much-needed project."
Monserrate envisions the project as a citywide improvement plan, one that will attract tax revenues, create new jobs and improve environmental conditions for all who work, live and come to visit the targeted area.