Among the conditions Lee attached to the decision were a commitment to paying prevailing wages to workers hired to develop the waterfront, a “good faith effort” to employ union labor for construction and building service jobs, a commitment for additional affordable units, and locating a new school site in Downtown Flushing.
“The scale and scope of the plan will significantly change the landscape of Downtown Flushing with long-lasting impacts on the area within and surrounding the SFWD,” Lee wrote.
The acting beep noted that Downtown Flushing is not immune to the consequences of large-scale development that “inadvertently leaves many behind,” including longtime residents and families, seniors and those on fixed incomes.
“These developments narrow their options for housing and leave them with hard economic and life choices,” Lee wrote.
“The people living closest to the SFWD will bear the brunt of the noise, dust, traffic and other construction-related inconveniences as the proposed project is built,” she wrote, “with little chance to afford or secure some of the new housing that would be built in the new modern waterfront development.”
Lee’s recommendation did highlight some of the benefits this project would bring to the dilapidated area, such as 39,600 square feet of open space, a new pedestrian-friendly roadway network, waterfront space and thousands of new jobs.
The land use application now goes to the City Planning Commission for approval before reaching the City Council.
FWRA LLC, a consortium of three developers that own the 29 acres of waterfront land, responded to the borough president’s recommendation.
“Following the near unanimous vote by Community Board 7 to support the Special Flushing Waterfront District, we are stunned by the unusual manner in which the interim borough president would go against the wishes of the community,” they said in a statement. “This project will create jobs, stimulate the Flushing economy, which is suffering, and bring activity and much-needed environmental cleanup to a vacant, blighted parcel of land.
“These factors are why there is a broad range of community support from local businesses and residents, but were unfortunately overlooked by someone who is not familiar with our community,” the developers added. “The merits of our project stand true and strong, and the resolution reiterated its numerous positive benefits to Flushing throughout the recommendation.”