City Planning Commission approves highly controversial Special Flushing Waterfront District Proposal

Rendering courtesy Flushing Willets Point LDC

The City Planning Commission (CPC) on Wednesday, Nov. 4, voted in favor of approving the highly controversial Special Flushing Waterfront District (SFWD) proposal that will now move forward to the City Council for a vote. 

The City Planning Commission’s 11-2 vote is a milestone for the development, which after a halted land-use process, is steadily gaining momentum.

Marisa Lago, chair of the City Planning Commission, voted in favor of the project saying, “the application is an important step forward for Flushing.”

The three developers behind the Special Flushing Waterfront Development include F&T Group, United Construction & Development Group, and Young Nian Group, known collectively as FWRA, LLC. 

Their proposal seeks to revitalize 29 acres of inactive and underutilized land that the developers say will provide substantial public benefits such as a privately funded and maintained road network and a 160,000-square-foot waterfront promenade along Flushing Creek that will both be publicly accessible.

The plan also includes 1,725 residential units, including affordable housing, 879 hotel keys, office and community facilities, retail space and parking spaces to help alleviate traffic along College Point Boulevard.

In response to the CPC’s vote, the developers said they’re pleased that the City Planning Commission has voted to move the application forward. 

“With 3,000+ permanent jobs, a new traffic-alleviating public road network, publicly accessible waterfront with public amenities, and $164+ million in projected annual tax revenue among many other benefits, SFWD will bring Queens a step closer to the future our communities deserve,” the developers said. 

The CPC’s vote marks another step in the right direction, the developers said. 

“City Planning rightly sees that the SWFD is not a rezoning, but an essential next step for Queens at large towards recovery. Our vocal community submitted more than 300 letters supporting the project, showing that our vision resonates with those we are working to serve,” the developers said. “Without question, the months since COVID-19 have been among the most trying times our city has ever seen. There is no better time to give Flushing and New York City this exciting new chapter.” 

Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal have said that the rezoning of the waterfront will exponentially increase the process of gentrification and displacement. 

The MinKwon Center for Community Action along with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Chhaya CDC, had filed a lawsuit against the Department of City Planning and the City Planning Commission, arguing that an environmental review must be conducted for the development proposal. 

Local organizations such as the Flushing Anti-Displacement Alliance, The MinKwon Center and the Flushing Workers Center took to social media describing the CPC’S vote as “shameful” while criticizing the mayor and Councilman Peter Koo. 

Koo’s approval will likely be crucial to securing support from the Council, since members traditionally vote according to the local member’s wishes on land-use matters.

The Flushing Worker’s Center said that “it’s no surprise that pro-developer officials like @NYCMayor and his corrupt planning council voted YES to this sham rezoning plan.” 

The City Council virtual Zoom hearing will be held on Monday, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m.

This story first appeared on our sister publication qns.com.

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