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FLUSHING, NY-A preliminary framework for revitalizing the Downtown community here calls for improved transportation facilities and a connection to the waterfront. In total, to realize the public/private plan, which encompasses the Downtown area, the Flushing River waterfront and Willets Point peninsula, could cost upwards of $265 million, excluding land amounts.

According to the New York City Economic Development Corp., the ultimate goal of the plan is to create an expanded Flushing core, with the river linking Downtown to Willets Point and creating a cohesive whole. “Building on the recommendations of the preliminary framework, we now have a viable plan to make Flushing a dynamic and diverse mixed-use community with inviting public spaces and strong connections to the waterfront,” says EDC president Andrew Alper. He adds that the planning process for this framework took more than a year and that already several efforts to implement the plan’s recommendations have begun. Others are expected to begin soon. Alper also says that community outreach efforts at Willets Point are progressing. The EDC will soon draft a Request for Expressions of Interest to solicit a range of ideas that represent “sound investments and economic benefits to the surrounding communities.”

Another aspect of the plan encompasses ways to make the area more pedestrian friendly as well as various streetscape enhancements for both the public benefit and to attract retail to the area. Some improvements will begin this summer to create a distinctive image for the Downtown streetscape and lay the foundation for future enhancements to the pedestrian environment.

Other changes to the traffic network will be required as well, the survey found. They will be necessary to “improve mobility, decrease congestion, and minimize conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.” Recommendations include converting portions of Main, Prince and Union streets to one-way, widening sidewalks on Main Street, and creating a right-hand turn from Northern Boulevard onto Prince Street. A follow-up traffic analysis is in the works. The plan calls for redevelopment of Municipal Lot 1, an approximately five-acre site that is the largest city-owned property in Downtown. The plan feels it has potential as a mixed-use development,town square as well as a short-term parking locale. A developer could be selected in the fall.

The $265-million expected total cost of the project excludes land, but includes parking, infrastructure and open space costs. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said improving and investing in the five boroughs is a critical component of his strategy. Those collaborating on the framework included various city and state agency representative, community leaders, while the planning firm of Cooper Carry Inc. and Economics Research Associates led the consultant team. Other members of the team included Jeanne Giordano Inc., Thomas Balsley Associates, Eng Wong Taub, and Geto & de Milly.

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