8 THE QUEENS COURIER • MARСH 5, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
A crowd packs into the borough president’s conference room for a hearing on the Special Flushing Waterfront District rezoning.
Acting Queens borough president examines
Flushing waterfront rezoning at packed hearing
BY MAX PARROTT
Flushing residents crammed into the
borough president’s conference room at
Borough Hall on Th ursday, Feb. 20, to voice
their opinions on the contentious Flushing
Waterfront Rezoning proposal that would
transform the 29-acre piece of land along
In her lines of questioning, Acting
Borough President Sharon Lee sought to
hammer out the details of the project’s public
benefi ts and inquire about what happened
at the tense Community Board 7
hearing, during which the board approved
Th e three-hour hearing began with a presentation
from FWRA LLC, a partnership
of three developers who own the majority
of property along the creek, before opening
up for public testimony.
Th e plan would create a 29-acre waterfront
district that would lead to the construction
of 1,725 new apartments, 879
new hotel units, a new road system, an
open waterfront path, offi ces, retail and
community center space.
Aft er listening to the presentation,
Lee scrutinized the proposal’s aff ordable
housing off erings, asking whether there
was any set aside for seniors. Th ere is not,
according to Ross Moskowitz, the legal
counsel to the FWRA. He added that it
would off er between 75 and 90 units of
aff ordable housing, of which 50 percent
would be reserved for residents in the surrounding
Lee proceeded to get the FWRA representatives
to clarify that their proposed stormwater
drainage system would cost $7 million
in private funds. Th e sewage drainage
is a common concern among residents, who
complain about the smell of Flushing Creek
and environmentalists who have fought to
decontaminate the body of water for years.
“What would happen to those benefi ts if
the proposal were nixed?” Lee asked.
Moskowitz claimed that two of the sites
are ready to start putting the construction
process as-of-right immediately if the
rezoning does not go through.
Th e hearing shed uncertainty on the
position of Flushing Councilman Peter
Koo, who will have a decisive role in
assessing the proposal in the next phase
of the ULURP process. Ross Moskowitz,
claimed defi nitively that the councilman
spoke in favor of the project the Land Use
Committee. But Joe Sweeney, CB7 chair
of the committee in charge of the project,
said that the councilman did not make it
clear whether he intended to approve the
project at the meeting.
According to a transcript of the meeting
in question that FWRA provided to QNS,
Koo said that he thought the project would
be a “very good development for Flushing.”
“Right now this piece of land here is of
no use and it’s been sitting vacant for how
many years… ten years? We now have 3
developers pooling their resources together
to make this beautiful project,” Koo
said. “Th e city and the developers will
win; this will be their legacy.”
Lee also asked Sweeney what accounts
for the diff erence in the votes between the
community board’s Land Use Committee
— which voted 15-1 in favor — and the
general vote, which went 30-8 in favor of
“I can’t read their minds. But some
people on the community board might
have been confused because if you vote it
down, you’re not going to get the aff ordable
housing,” said Sweeney.
At the unruly general meeting in question,
which was packed with protesters
against the project, community board
members raised concerns over the developer’s
lack of commitment to providing
union jobs, the potential negative eff ects
of real estate speculation on the neighborhood
and lack of community input.
In his public testimony, John Choe, CB7
member and executive director of the
Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce,
raised another process-based objection
to the plan, which came up during the
community board vote. Choe said he
would not support the project without an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS),
a detailed city report that analyzes the
eff ects of a rezoning.
“Th e Department of City Planning said
that this proposal did not require an EIS,
which we thought was an incorrect call on
their part. Because how do you build such
a large development in the most densely
populated part of the city in Queens? It’s
absurd,” said Choe.
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