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Planned Flushing Commons parking unfair: BID

The debate over downtown Flushing parking issues heated up Tuesday afternoon as Flushing BID Chairman James Gerson came out strongly against plans for the $800 million Flushing Commons mixed-use development project, saying it does not provide enough fairly priced parking.

He proposed a resolution declaring the BID’s adamant opposition to plans for the project certified by the city Jan. 25.

“Our merchants will be heard in what I describe as a calamitous way” if it moves forward as is, Gerson warned.

He said the BID would only support the project if it provides 2,000 parking spots, which he contended were in the original plan; parking rates that are permanently capped and every space made available to all drivers.

Carolee Fink of the city Economic Development Corp. said that several years ago the city told former City Councilman John Liu the parking rates would be capped, but found after the economic downturn it would cripple the project to do so.

Members of the BID chose not to take a vote on the resolution after Myra Herce, president of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, and Mike Meyer, vice chairman of the BID and president of the project’s developer, TDC Development, opposed it.

“I disagree with your premise that if you don’t get basically free parking, you’re going to go out of business. It doesn’t happen anywhere else,” Meyer said, describing Gerson’s approach as “scare tactics.”

But parking issues were on the mind of attendees, who repeatedly asked about the project’s impact on parking despite a request by Meyer that they hold questions on the topic for a Community Board 7 meeting on the topic scheduled for this week.

During construction, Meyer said TDC would provide interim parking in buildings it owns to offset the 1,100 spaces lost when Municipal Lot 1, between 37th and 39th avenues between 138th and Union streets, is torn down to make room for the project.

“The interim parking plan we’re unveiling tomorrow, we believe it will be a major improvement,” he said.

The city also plans to add nearly 200 new parking spots at Municipal Lot 2 by installing hydraulic stackers and those spaces combined with TDC’s site are slated to total at least 1,100.

The project, expected to begin construction in 2011 and be ready for occupancy in 2013, will include 1,600 parking spaces; 620 high-end residential condos; 275,000 square feet of retail; 234,000 square feet of hotel and/or office space; 36,000 square feet of community space; 1.5 acres of green space; and the newest addition: a 62,000 square-foot YMCA.

Flushing Commons is currently under ULURP review, which will conclude in late summer, and CB 7 review, which concludes in March. The borough president looks at it beginning in April, followed by the city Planning Commission in May and June and the Council, which will decide whether to approve it in July.

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

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