Flushing waterfront vote postponed as opposition mounts

Council subcommittee to consider $1B plan Dec. 7

New York /
Nov.November 18, 2020 06:31 PM
Council members Francisco Moya and Peter Koo with a rendering of the Flushing waterfront (City Council; Hill West Architects

Council members Francisco Moya and Peter Koo with a rendering of the Flushing waterfront (City Council; Hill West Architects

With opposition to a proposal to transform Flushing’s waterfront growing among City Council members, a vote was called off Wednesday.

The Council subcommittee on zoning and franchises was to weigh in on the $1 billion private development plan, but tabled the matter until Dec. 7. The delay follows a statement issued by a dozen members, including subcommittee chairman Francisco Moya, opposing the Special Flushing Waterfront District project.

Moya tweeted out the statement Tuesday night, saying approval would be a “grave mistake.”

“We believe that it would be irresponsible to approve the application without deep community benefits like real affordable housing and commitments to provide good jobs for local community members,” the letter states.

In a statement to The Real Deal, Moya attributed the vote’s delay to ongoing “negotiations and conversations taking place to hopefully bring this project to a better place that will serve the community.”

The development team — F&T Group, Young Nian Group and United Construction and Development Group — said in a statement that Moya’s letter “ignores the many immediate benefits the Special Flushing Waterfront District will bring to Flushing.”

“Without approval of the district, there will be ZERO affordable housing if the owners choose to develop as-of-right according to in-place zoning,” the developers said in an emailed statement. “It is antithetical of the Council members to support affordable units and simultaneously fight against the very zoning enhancement that would allow affordable housing to be brought to the area.”

The opponents want more income-restricted apartments and are betting that the developers will add more rather than build the shorter project that current zoning allows. Normally those details are negotiated by the local member, in this case Peter Koo, whose decision would be echoed by the rest of the City Council.

But the dozen opponents, who would need 13 more votes to defeat the measure when it reaches the chamber floor, feel Koo has not demanded enough from the developers, who are seeking to create a 29-acre special district along the Flushing waterfront.

The companies would separately develop four sites, creating more than 1,700 residential units, a hotel, retail and public space. F&T is seeking to upzone its site as part of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program and build a 304-unit building, with 75 to 90 apartments set aside as affordable. But the three other sites are seeking only to be taller than currently allowed, not to add units by increasing floor-area ratio.

The proposal has faced local opposition and drawn the ire of two powerful unions, 32BJ SEIU and New York Hotel & Motels Trades Council. The former has raised concerns that the project will accelerate gentrification and the latter has criticized the development team for not committing to hiring union workers.

The developers believe the community’s top priority — the waterfront access that the project would provide — is being lost in the conversation as critics focus on affordability.

The real test for the proposal will be when it heads to the full City Council, which it can do even if Council committees vote against it. Koo’s support for the project figures to carry the day, but the developers might not want to risk a close vote.





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    Corey Johnson (background) and (from left) Ross Moskowitz, Ken Fisher and Paul Selver (Getty)

    Land use overhaul faces challenging path forward

    Land use overhaul faces challenging path forward
    Council member Mark Gjonaj and Robert Holden (Photos via City Council)

    Yimby group backs City Council candidates

    Yimby group backs City Council candidates
    Commissioner Melanie La Rocca and Brooklyn Council member Robert Cornegy (New York City Council)

    Council passes bill to speed up opening of new and renovated properties

    Council passes bill to speed up opening of new and renovated properties
    De Blasio and Council member Adrienne Adams (Getty, New York City Council)

    Bill would renew city’s tax lien sale, add Covid escape hatch

    Bill would renew city’s tax lien sale, add Covid escape hatch
    A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit from a group of New York landlords that sought to challenge pandemic protections for tenants. (iStock)

    Landlords lose challenge against pandemic renter protections

    Landlords lose challenge against pandemic renter protections
    Council member Barry Grodenchik (Getty; iStock)

    “Absolute craziness”: Critics slam bill requiring sprinklers in every apartment

    “Absolute craziness”: Critics slam bill requiring sprinklers in every apartment
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and City Council member Mark Levine (Getty; City Council)

    Parts of Manhattan, Staten Island enter lockdowns, but is it enough?

    Parts of Manhattan, Staten Island enter lockdowns, but is it enough?
    The Democratic Socialists of America are scheming to expand their constituency, decommodify housing and undermine the real estate industry. (iStock)

    Stakes rise for real estate as socialists seek City Council foothold

    Stakes rise for real estate as socialists seek City Council foothold
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...