The Flushing area of Queens on Long Island is looking to see some imminent improvements to the waterfront area. A couple of months ago, Hill West Architects revealed plans for an enormous complex of mixed-use buildings to be constructed in the 29-acre area. There are hopes that this will help to expand the downtown area, provide greater access to the waterfront, expand local housing and business opportunities, and only continue to improve the overall environment. The expansive footprint of this proposed project has led to citizens demanding an environmental impact in order to see assurances of their ecologically-friendly intentions.
What Is the Pre-Project State of the Flushing River Waterfront?
The good news is that even before construction was to commence, the area has undergone numerous cleanup efforts, taking it from one of the most polluted waterways in the metro area with a notable “rotten egg” stench to marked improvement, as reported in late 2018. Major changes to the area included:
- Dredging 89,000 cubic yards of sediment, which on its own can adversely affect wetland areas, increase erosion, lower moisture, and make the environment less habitable for local flora and fauna;
- Reworking the local sewer system to stop over 200 million gallons of sewage from dumping into the bay every year; and
- Installing acres of new wetlands that help to filter the water and keep it clean naturally.
It is not a complete fix, as recent reports suggest that heavy storms still lead to swelling, backed up sewage, and other issues. More than a year after news of improvements to the area, and still stink-free, the waterfront is on its way to transforming into another substantial way, including: mixed-used properties, including more sorely needed low-income housing, to bring residents back to the area while still sustaining continued environmental improvements.
Moving Forward: Changes the Mixed-Use Project Aims to Bring
Hill West’s project is massive, spanning 29 acres of currently unused industrial space. A total of nine buildings are planned across the site. The project, assuming approval is imminent, should commence this year and is projected to continue, with a steady stream of construction work to follow through to 2025. Further specifics include:
- A total rezoning of the area from industrial to residential.
- 1,725 new apartments, with around ten percent reserved for below-market-rate spaces.
- 1,387,040 square feet of commercial space, to “include 298,811 square feet of retail, a 714,588-square-foot hotel, and 383,641 square feet of office space.”
- 21,913 square feet of community facilities.
- 3.14 acres of publicly accessible open space and park area.
- 1,533 parking spaces.
But for the rezoning, which is all paperwork, the rest consists of virtually every trade a team will need in construction, across four separate sites, to complete it. Hill West Architects revealed plans show an ambitious transformation over a large chunk of the local map. Pending approvals and impact reports can only reveal more details on how this change could change the local environment for better or worse