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Flushing to gain affordable houses but lose parking

TimesLedger Newspapers

The 14-story affordable housing building proposed by Macedonia AME Church will begin its rise over downtown Flushing next month, but parking provisions did not go according to plan.

On April 5, the construction company BRP Cos. that is building the church is set to erect a fence around the project site and stick a shovel in the ground two to three weeks later.

“It’s been a very, very long time in the planning of this project,” Geoff Flournoy, managing partner at BRP Cos., said at a recent meeting.

The project will go up on a 30,140-square-foot section of Municipal Lot 1 directly north of the church. The lot will be sold to the church at what city officials called a “nominal price,” while community leaders said that lot is being given to the church.

Macedonia Plaza will be home to 143 units of affordable housing, retail space on the ground floor along Union Street, a day care center and gated green space, according to the city Department of Housing, which is giving a property tax break to the developer as part of a city initiative to spur economic revival.

In order to minimize the impact of construction on the community, BRP Cos. said it will perform most of the work from the back of the building, which will also be LEED-certified. To comply with city safety regulations, no parking will be allowed on either side of Union Street or 37th Avenue on that block. In addition, the 37th Avenue entrance of the parking lot will be closed.

The structure, being built by BRP and Macedonia AME Development Corp., was initially supposed to be started after another, larger development got off the ground.

Flushing Commons, an $850 million proposed mixed-use project that would take up the rest of Municipal Lot 1, was set to be developed before Macedonia Plaza, according to the Rev. Richard McEachern, of the church.

“The intent was for Flushing Commons to start first, then the AME go second,” McEachern said at a meeting. “But if I may, as God would have it, Macedonia Plaza is now going first.”

But the switch negates the way parking was supposed to be provided.

The church’s plan, which called for no parking at Macedonia Plaza, was approved by Community Board 7 and Borough President Helen Marshall before the Department of City Planning gave the green light.

But CB 7 approved it with the condition that parking should be provided. The board called the lack of spaces “unconscionable.”

In a City Planning report, the agency addressed CB 7’s concerns by saying the area is well-served by mass transit and that “the adjacent proposed Flushing Commons development will provide a total of 1,600 public parking spaces, which will replace the 1,101 parking spaces presently in the municipal lot.”

Yet Flushing Commons was not built first and does not currently have the funding to start. Instead of additional parking spaces, the area will lose about 50 of them, according to CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian, who said that the Macedonia Plaza phase was supposed to go second.

“There will be no parking for these units,” he said, reaffirming the board’s position. “It is being phased out of order.”McEachern and Flournoy did not respond to comment about the parking issue.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Tim Burke from 37th Ave. says:
The lack parking spots will disable the area and hurt the local economy. It will be a complete disaster. I've been on Bowne Street 57 years. 109th Pct. will have their hands full!!
April 9, 4:20 pm

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