By Steve Dwyer
When it finally comes to fruition—following cleanup efforts and subsequent build-out—the Special Flushing Waterfront District project appears poised to deliver an acute revitalization boost to a Flushing, N.Y, footprint, with burgeoning benefits seen cross the top three pillars of brownfield benchmarking: Economic, social and environmental.
It’s all courtesy of land-use strategy blueprinted by local Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, which intends to create a vibrant extension of the business district, anchored by mixed-use and affordable housing end use. Moreover, the plan will see the manifestation of new open space, enhanced waterfront access, improvements to pedestrian flows and vehicular movements and long-term improvement of water quality benefitting Flushing Creek.
The group, which has already completed a series of recommendations for land use actions along 40 acres on the Flushing waterfront, secured a Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) designation last summer by the Cuomo administration—making it one of 47 BOA awardees across the state. Estimated at $1.5 million and assisted by the Department of City Planning (DCP), the Flushing BOA grant finances a host of planning activities for the area, including cleanup of deteriorated sites as well as Flushing Creek.
This redevelopment effort involved substantial outreach by engaging the local community for input and consensus-building. The LDC and DCP collaboratively strove to satisfy both private interests and public need, incentivizing property owners to redevelop underutilized sites while ensuring that such redevelopment yields tangible public benefits.
The proposal is defined by revitalization, rehabilitation and community-oriented redevelopment of underutilized, vacant, and environmentally challenged areas near the Flushing waterfront.
Anchored by the mixed-use redevelopment and affordable housing, the game plan also involves creation of new public walkways and open space along the waterfront, plus the extension of pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems from the downtown to the waterfront, according to Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC.
Among the specification are a decided emphasis on establishing a transportation-oriented component that promotes walking and enhances overall point-to-point connectivity. Not only does the grant money empower the environmental cleanup of the core brick-and-mortar area plus abandoned parcels, but a comprehensive cleanup of the Flushing waterway will ensue as well.
Alexandra Rosa, executive vice president for Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, described the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC waterfront plan and BOA designation as consistent with what city planning has been seeking. “When you are approved as a BOA, the development on the sites are approved for enhanced tax credits for eliminating some of the environmental issues,” said Rosa. That gives stakeholders the incentive to build and the community gets the revitalization it needs simultaneously, Rosa added.
It will be interesting to watch the project evolution unfold throughout 2019 as it provides a well-timed shot in the arm to an area truly requiring it.