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Flushing Commons talks revealed in e-mails

Developers of the Flushing Commons project are currently in contract negotiations, according to the city.
TimesLedger Newspapers

On the heels of what appeared to be a fund-raising trip to Asia, the developers of Flushing Commons are back in Queens and in the process of inking contract deals for the $850 million downtown project.

Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development, attended meetings in cities including Hong Kong and Beijing in early March, e-mails obtained by TimesLedger Newspapers through the Freedom of Information Law show.

Meyer was upbeat, calling the tete-a-tetes “excellent,” but it was unclear exactly what was discussed, since details about the project were not released as part of the information request.

Meyer declined to comment at this stage in the project, but has said in previous interviews that Flushing Commons did not have enough funding to get a shovel in the ground.

A FOIL officer from the city Economic Development Corp. said the documents specifically related to the progress of Flushing Commons — which was approved in summer 2010 but never broke ground — were legally exempt because releasing them would affect a bidding process affiliated with the project.

The officer was not specific, but said the developers were currently negotiating new contract deals as part of the mega-project that is proposed to take the place of Municipal Lot 1 downtown.

Along for the Asian trip was Rick Sondik, of Rockefeller Development Group, which is partnering with TDC for the 5-acre project that will bring hundreds of apartments and hundreds of thousands of retail space to the area.

In December, Meyer and Sondik had been planning to give a big update to EDC, the documents show.

“We’ve been all over the project from a variety of aspects and we’re just about ready to give you both a high-level briefing,” Meyer said.

The subject line of many of the missives exchanged between Meyer and the EDC was “Flushing Commons biweekly check-in.”

But while Meyer was updating the EDC twice a month, community leaders who approved the project more than a year-and-a-half ago have been kept in the dark ever since.

“I think EDC should be telling us and at least giving us a semi-annual update,” said Community Board 7 Chairman Gene Kelty. “But it doesn’t surprise me. As I’ve said before I think they should be dismantled.”

A group of merchants along Union Street have also long called on the city to release more details about funding for the project, saying their businesses will be greatly affected by construction.

“Are they going to do it? Are they not going to do it?” asked Ikhwan Rim, of the Union Street Merchants Association in an earlier interview. “People’s lives depend on this information.”

Business owners along Union Street have already been making an exodus to escape the uncertainty surrounding the project, according to Rim.

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

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