4 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Public review of major Flushing Waterfront
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Aft er a fi ve-month hiatus due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, the City Planning
Commission is set to resume the Uniform
Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)
hearing on the controversial Special
Flushing Waterfront Development proposal
on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Th e Flushing Waterfront Development
would include nine buildings in the area
enclosed by 36th Avenue to the north,
College Point Boulevard to the east,
Roosevelt Avenue to the south, and the
Flushing Creek to the west.
Th e application was prepared by FWRA
LLC, a joint partnership of the three
major developers — F&T Group, United
Construction & Development Group Inc.
and Young Nian Group — who own plots
in the area.
Th e developers, who have deep-rooted
connections in Flushing and have been
active members of the community for
decades, say the project would involve
over $1 billion in private investment, and
would generate $28 million in tax revenue.
Th e proposal seeks to revitalize 29 acres
of inactive and underutilized land that
the developers say will provide substantial
public benefi ts such as a privately funded
and maintained road network and a
160,000-square-foot waterfront promenade
along Flushing Creek that will both
be publicly accessible.
Th e plan also includes 1,725 residential
units, including aff ordable housing, 879
hotel keys, offi ce and community facilities,
retail space and parking spaces to
help alleviate traffi c along College Point
‘No fences or gates’
According to William Xu, vice president
of United Construction & Development
Group Inc., the waterfront will be 100
percent open to the public.
“We are building it and funding it —
there are no fences or gates,” Xu said.
“Flushing is an area that doesn’t really
have open parks and space that the public
can enjoy and we are voluntarily increasing
that for them. For the people that are
opposing this project, I really encourage
them to take a deep dive and look at
everything that we are doing.”
Th e project has been met with some
opposition and criticism from community
leaders, organizers and residents, but
Community Board 7 approved the rezoning
plan in February. Meanwhile, acting
Borough President Sharon Lee rejected
the plan in March, citing the scale and
scope of the project that will signifi cantly
change the landscape of downtown
Th e developers, however, say there are
extensive legal protocols in place to obtain
a land use approval and will continue to
follow each and every one of them.
Additionally, the required
Environmental Assessment Statement
was completed and the study is available
via public record, according to the developers.
Th e development will provide environmental
relief to the Flushing Creek by
providing upgrades to the existing sewer
and storm water drainage systems and a
large-scale removal of contaminated soils.
According to Xu, the Flushing
Waterfront project will create thousands
of jobs and give the community the economic
lift it needs to recover, especially
amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xu estimates that there will be between
500 to 558 construction workers onsite
per day, and 3,000 permanent jobs
post-construction including hotel workers,
maintenance workers for the private
roads, as well as commercial and retail
As for aff ordable housing, only the
northern area of the special district
will have a small existing zoning without
increasing density. Th ere will be
75-90 units under the city’s Mandatory
Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Program,
according to Richard Siu, chief investment
offi cer of F&T Group.
John Liang, president of Young Nian
Group, said the project will provide
upgraded housing for everyday people.
“Th is is not for the super rich. We are
not fi lling super luxury apartments like
Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn,” Liang
said. “Th is is a place for a starter family
Renderings courtesy of FWRA LLC
with a kid or a young couple starting their
career that can actually aff ord an apartment
in New York City.”
According to Liang, he doesn’t understand
why people are against the project
due to the fact that there are many benefi
ts to the community and to the people
that live and work in Flushing.
Not aff ordable enough?
On the other hand, opponents of the
development, such as the MinKwon
Community Center in Flushing, say the
rezoning of the waterfront will exponentially
speed up the process of gentrifi cation
“Th eir current plan is to have 61 aff ordable
housing units at 80 percent area
median income (AMI) which is about
$85K for a family of four, when the
income for Flushing residents is between
$11k to $40K — it’s not aff ordable to our
community at all,” said Seonae Byeon,
organizer at the MinKwon Community
Th e MinKwon Center for Community
Action along with the Greater Flushing
Chamber of Commerce and Chhaya
CDC, have fi led a lawsuit against the
Department of City Planning and the City
Planning Commission, arguing that an
environmental review must be conducted
for the development proposal.
According to Byeon, the developers
instead created an Environmental
Assessment Study (EAS), that does not
include the community’s input or the