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City Planning okays Flushing Commons

Jim Gerson, co-president of the Flushing Coalition for Responsible Development, a group that led a protest last week against plans to build the $850 million Flushing Commons mixed-use project, said the project’s opponents have not given up on blocking the proposal.

The group will continue to work to stop the project from moving forward despite the fact that the City Planning Commission voted last week to approve plans for it and the Macedonia Plaza affordable housing building to be built in downtown Flushing.

Gerson’s group held its protest at the same time as the commission met to consider the proposals June 23 in Manhattan and voiced their reasons for opposing the projects.

But proponents emphasized its benefits to the community and the estimated 2,000 permanent jobs and 2,600 construction jobs it could bring to Flushing.

“The concept for the Flushing Commons project emerged from a community visioning and planning process ... and it exemplifies sustainable, transit-oriented development,” Planning Commission Chairwoman Amanda Burden said.

The commission approved the proposals by a vote of 10-1 and they will now go before the City Council. If the Council approves the projects, the plans will be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who praised the Planning Commission’s vote last week, for final approval.

About 40 people gathered on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan while the Planning Commission met to vote on the Flushing Commons proposal.

They protested the massive project, decrying a litany of concerns they have, although Gerson said he expected it to breeze through the Planning Commission.

“Planning was pretty much a foregone conclusion. They pretty much rubber-stamp what the mayor wants,” he said. “What the mayor proposes, Planning disposes.”

Michael Myer, president of the project’s developer, TDC Development, countered such claims, praising the commission for thoroughly reviewing the Flushing Commons project.

“The New York City Planning Commission undertook a comprehensive, detailed review of every aspect of this project and its planning, so their stamp of approval is incredibly important and gratifying,” Myer said.

But Gerson said members of his coalition and other protesters will continue to make their views about the project known before the plans go before the Council, as concerns about the impact on retailers, churches, parking and traffic grow. Opponents continue to analyze documents related to the project.

“We’re not going to rest,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, the City Council is where the decision is made and it’s our intention to make sure the decision is the right one to the best of our ability,” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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