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Flushing Waterfront Development Approved

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This Wednesday, December 9th, the City Council approved a highly contentious waterfront development proposal in Flushing. The proposed development is a thirteen tower complex “that would transform the east shore of Flushing Creek,” a notion agreed upon by both its supporters and detractors. [1] The City Council’s approval had been delayed twice, awaiting a deal between the consortium of developers — F&T Group, Young Nian Group, and United Construction & Development Group — and unions representing hotel and building service employees. The trio of developers are coalesced as the entity FWRA LLC. This Wednesday, they and the union groups reached a deal, making the project a go.     

FWRA LLC’s development will be home to new hotels and apartments. Specifically, the project “aims to construct 879 hotel rooms and 1,725 residential apartments on three privately owned sites by 2025.” [1] Supporters of the development claim it will spur job growth and revitalize a depleted area of Flushing. FWRA LLC itself projects that 2,926 permanent jobs and nearly $165 million in annual tax revenue will come from the project. [1] They have also tied it to NYC’s recovery from the financial slowdowns that came with COVID. Detractors claim that the jobs it will spur will be beneficial to developers only, and will rely on exploitative labor practices.

Until yesterday, these specific concerns were poised to halt the development altogether, as union negotiations placed the project on hold. However, in yesterday’s agreement, developers promised to hire union labor, with more details soon to come. They have already committed to “environmental remediation of the creek, improvements to sewer and storm water drainage systems, as well as to creating 124,000 square feet of publicly accessible streets and sidewalks, and a waterfront pedestrian path.” [2] Moreover, a small number of the soon-to-be apartments — roughly 75 to 90 — will be designated affordable housing units. [2] Though, this number could increase in coming days, when developer concessions are publicized in full. In any case, development will soon be underway. 

FWRA LLC’s turbulent path to development offers an especially interesting instance of development politics in that district representative, Peter Koo, had backed the project without the full support of the Council. It is highly irregular for the city council to deny a development that is backed by the representative of the district in which it is to be built. However, until yesterday, this was the case due to strong union pushback. That is no longer an issue, as coming details will more fully explain. Flushing’s waterfront will indeed “transform” as the thirteen new towers begin construction next year.

Sources:

[1] – Brenzel, Kathryn, “Flushing development wins key vote, now on path to approval,” The Real Deal, 9 Dec. 2020, https://therealdeal.com/2020/12/09/flushing-developers-win-key-vote-now-on-path-to-approval/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=feature_posts, accessed 9, Dec. 2020.

[2] – Chung, Christine, “Flushing Council Candidates Split on Contentious Waterfront Development,” The City, 19 Nov. 2020, https://www.thecity.nyc/queens/2020/11/19/21574515/flushing-council-candidates-split-on-waterfront-development, accessed 9 Dec. 2020.

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