Opinion: Now More Than Ever, Flushing Needs This


Flushing is a vibrant and special community, attracting visitors from throughout New York City and beyond thanks to its international reputation as a culinary destination and ecosystem of authentic and unique offerings provided by its minority-owned small businesses.

While the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a devastating impact both economically and socially on this predominantly Chinese immigrant population, it has historically persevered while being neglected at large with relatively limited government funding.

This economic resiliency has been achieved through entrepreneurial private local investment and strong leadership by Councilman Peter Koo and others, who led Flushing to add the most businesses in Queens between 2009-2017 after the 2008 financial crisis.

During these unprecedented times, now more than ever, the community and city need to unify around what would be a tangible stimulus to the local economy. Elected officials and community leaders – including Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Grech, among others – have continued to speak in favor of the Special Flushing Waterfront District because it’s what Flushing needs, particularly right now to pick itself back up and survive.

The Special Flushing Waterfront District aims to revitalize 29 dilapidated acres into a flourishing destination that will create permanent jobs – nearly 3,000 total – desperately needed at this uncertain time in the economy. It would also bring billions in private investment to the neighborhood and create tens of millions in annual property tax revenues.

Further, as Flushing is primarily a neighborhood of small businesses, the Special District master plan preserves and protects the fabric of the business community, where the owners have thoughtfully designed their buildings to attract these same types of tenants.

The public benefits, all of which would be privately funded and maintained by the consortium of three experienced developers who have deep roots in the Flushing community, are plentiful.

In addition to the creation of an inviting 160,000-square-foot public waterfront esplanade, including an extended shoreline and promenade, benefits also include affordable housing; an extensive publicly accessible road network that will alleviate traffic congestion; extensive infrastructure upgrades related to the existing sewer and drainage systems; and a comprehensive environmental remediation plan that will clean up what is considered one of the most polluted sites in all of New York City.

Each of these benefits is what the community wants and have asked for. It is why Community Board 7 voted in favor of the project 30-8, and why the developers created responsible, viable plans to make Queens an even more attractive destination to eat, sleep, work and play. Absent of approval of this plan, these additional public benefits will not be realized and would be precluded from ever taking place.

Flushing is a place of incredible change. It’s a neighborhood in constant transition that continues to hold on to and celebrate its hardworking immigrant roots. Now is the time to transform its vast, desolate waterfront into something Flushing and all of Queens can be proud of.

During these difficult times, when the proposed Special District will create jobs, provide economic stimulus and generous public benefits, it would be irresponsible to allow this plan to become a victim of election politics. It’s time to move forward, not backwards.

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