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Willets should be reborn as technology park: Vet

A vision of the Flushing area as the home to a new technological corridor was the topic of last week’s meeting of the Queensboro Hill Civic Association, and the momentum for such a plan is growing.

Queens Silicon Valley 2.0, the weeks-old brainchild of Flushing and Bayside native Jukay Hsu, 26, a Harvard graduate and U.S. Army captain who returned from Iraq two months ago, is a plan to convince Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the 62-acre Iron Triangle is the best location for a tech-focused school to build a campus in the city.

“With an additional university here, I think we could create a northeast Queens technological corridor. The impetus behind this is to create another economic center here in New York, and I think Queens is the place to do that, particularly Willets Point,” Hsu told a packed room of civic members and leaders at the Palace Diner June 29. “We’re trying to build community support, increase knowledge about this and educate the colleges about why Flushing is the best site for a new university.”

In the short time since Hsu began work on the initiative, he has started a nonprofit, a website and a Facebook page and collected about 75 petition signatures.

He is also building a growing coalition of support that includes state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing); City Council members Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), Peter Koo (R-Flushing), Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills); former Borough President Claire Shulman; the Queens Chamber of Commerce; the Queens Economic Development Corp.; the Flushing Chamber of Commerce; Flushing Business Improvement District; and a number of area civics.

Hsu’s efforts come in response to a request Bloomberg issued to colleges across the world last year to gauge their interest in building a new campus in New York City aimed at helping to facilitate the creation of a technological hub. About two dozen schools, including Stanford and Cornell universities, responded, saying they would like to be considered for such an initiative. Bloomberg will ask for them to draw up specific proposals later this summer.

Bloomberg provided a list of four possible sites where a new campus could be built on Governor’s, Roosevelt and Staten islands and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but Hsu thinks the top site on that list should be Willets Point.

Myra Baird Herce, chairwoman of the Flushing chamber, emphatically expressed her excitement about that possibility at the civic meeting and went on to urge attendees to call and write Bloomberg in order to build a “groundswell of support” for the idea.

“We’re going to need all of your help to get Mayor Bloomberg to bring a university to us here,” she said. “This will be a second economic center of New York, and we think that’s really the future of Flushing and of Queens.”

The website for Queens Silicon Valley 2.0 is expected to launch soon at queenssv2.org.

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

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