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Housing bucks parking fix

TimesLedger Newspapers

Construction fences are going up in Municipal Lot 1 in Flushing to make way for a $40 million Macedonia A.M.E. affordable housing building, but because another downtown mega-project is stalled, the community’s fears over parking may be realized.

Macedonia A.M.E. Church and the city Department of Housing recently secured $49.6 million in financing to build the project, which will include 143 sorely needed affordable housing units.

But the units are being built on Municipal Lot 1 with no plans to provide additional parking — the No. 1 concern of the community when the project was in its infant stages.

“The affordable housing complex must provide parking,” Community Board 7 said in a 2010 statement during the review process of the church’s application. “It is unconscionable to build 140 units of housing in downtown Flushing and not provide any parking.”

CB 7 unanimously approved the project with the condition that parking be provided.

The city maintains that the parking lot is underused and that the housing will not have any adverse effects on parking in the area.

Initially, Macedonia Plaza was thought to be built after another large development: Flushing Commons.

“The intent was for Flushing Commons to start first, then the A.M.E. to go second,” the Rev. Richard McEachern said at a meeting with CB 7 in March. “But if I may, as God would have it, Macedonia Plaza is now going first.”

And Flushing Commons was supposed to provide extra parking that could offset possible demand by people who will eventually live in Macedonia Plaza.

The City Planning Commission gave the green light to the project in a 2010 report, which stated, “In response to concerns raised by the public and Community Board 7 about the lack of parking on-site, the commission notes that the area is well-served by mass transit, buses and rail.”

The report also pointed out that “the adjacent proposed Flushing Commons development will provide a total of 1,600 public parking spaces, which will help replace the 1,101 parking spaces currently in the municipal lot.”

Yet the development of Flushing Commons has been mired in secrecy ever since it was approved nearly two years ago, with the developers admitting they do not have the funds to put a shovel in the ground but providing scant details about their progress.

A recent TimesLedger Newspapers article reported that TDC Development head Michael Meyer and Rick Sondik, of Rockefeller Development Group — which is partnering with TDC for the $850 million mixed-use project that will occupy the remaining footprint of the parking lot — returned from a recent trip to several Asian financial capitals.

The city Economic Development Corp. said details of the project could not be released because of current contract negotiations, suggesting it has made headway on the project.

But the city nor TDC has yet to reveal any details of when they will break ground, which means Municipal Lot 1 could have less parking spaces than before.

The footprint of the affordable housing will take up 72 spaces, and during construction police vehicles will take up a further 49 spaces.

The city also pointed out that it has kept CB 7 abreast of all developments and has received no complaints, and though no dedicated parking will be available to Macedonia Plaza tenants even when and if Flushing Commons moves forward, the low-income tenants are less likely to own cars anyway.

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

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