Beyond the US Open: 12 things to know about what’s happening in Flushing

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September 18, 2019

Thousands of tennis fans will flock to Flushing for the US Open, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 8.  Most will take the No. 7 train or the Long Island Rail Road or drive, and while few might venture beyond the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, many might catch glimpses of the neighborhood of Flushing and wonder: “Where did this new city come from?

Home search platform’s urban planners and data scientists compiled a list of what’s happening in Flushing when it comes to development, demographics, environmental issues and transit. 

“Flushing is one of the fastest-changing neighborhoods in New York. Flushing feels like a vibrant and bustling downtown with all of the new retail that has opened in recent years and all the new construction in the pipeline,” said urban planner Olivia Jovine. “All of that new development is bringing new investment to the area, with park renovations, subway upgrades and more. But the neighborhood still has some challenges especially with overcrowding, whether its schools are overcapacity or ts traffic too hectic.”

Who lives in Flushing?

1) Compared to the citywide immigrant population of 35.9%, approximately 58.5% of Flushing’s population is an immigrant population. 

The area’s Chinese and Korean communities are its largest, and the area is known for its Asian restaurants, bakeries, and specialty stores. 

What’s happening with new development?

2) New construction in Flushing is booming: Roughly 2,500 new apartments are expected to be built over the next few years and more will likely follow.

Flushing ranked seventh citywide in a analysis of where the most new apartments are expected to open through 2020. 

Modern glass-and-steel buildings, rising 15 to 20 stories, are dwarfing the shrinking stock of older, modest brick apartment buildings.  Dozens of projects are underway, including several mega-developments such such as Flushing Commons. Two of five towers of this 600-unit development have already opened. The second phase will bring three more towers, a 1.5-acre publicly accessible park and a YMCA. 

Flushing Point Plaza, a 326-unit complex with a hotel, is expected to open at a former industrial site by 2020. It’s across the street from The Shops at Skyview Center (a major retail hub with both BJ’s and Target), and is only a stone’s throw from Citi Field. On game days, you may be able to hear the fans cheering. Flushing Point Plaza is also in La Guardia Airport’s flight obstruction area and had to get special permission for its anticipated height of roughly 165 feet. 

3) Locals are getting some waterfront access thanks to some of the new developments in Downtown Flushing.

The 448-unit luxury condo development Sky View Parc not only has its own rooftop garden, running track, basketball courts and, for tennis aficionados, two full size tennis courts. It also opened a public esplanade along Flushing Bay nearly three-quarters of an acre that’s accessible from 40th Road. 

4) Some locals are worried about potential overcrowding of the area’s public schools, strains to its transit system and loss of mom-and-pop shops.

With many projects including large commercial spaces, some locals worry that the new options could threaten many small, often immigrant-owned, businesses that define the area. Meanwhile, the influx of new residents could make the already-crowded No. 7 subway stations even more jam-packed. Furthermore, schools in District 25’s Flushing, Murray Hill and Willets Point area are expected to need 1,756 additional seats for the 2019-2020 school year.

5) New health care center to fill a void for large population of immigrants and seniors.

A nine-story health care center is expected to open in Downtown Flushing by the 2020s and provide affordable and culturally competent healthcare services to the people of Flushing and neighboring Queens, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. Doctors will speak Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean,2 and provide a variety of services including: internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, psychiatry, behavioral health and family dentistry. The neighborhood has been historically underserved when it comes to health care.

What are some environmental issues in the area?

6) Airplane noise is a problem for many residents.

While airplane noise can sometimes be an issue for tennis matches — though players say it doesn’t tend to be a problem at Arthur Ashe Stadium — the roar of jet engines can be a problem for locals year-round since much of Flushing is close to La Guardia. A recent analysis found that roughly 66 percent of the homes on the market for sale or rent in June were exposed to excessive airplane noise. That was the third highest percentage in the city.

For the majority of these homes, the airplane noise tends to be as loud as a TV or radio at low volume. While the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t consider areas in this zone as officially at risk for harmful airplane noise exposure, more stringent international noise standards suggest that airplane noise could still be an issue.   Some residents, however, hear airplane noise that is roughly equivalent to a loud air conditioner. This level exceeds FAA guidelines, so areas that fall within this zone may not be suitable for residential living due to aircraft noise levels, suggests a 2017 Port Authority study for La Guardia and John F. Kennedy airports.

7) Water doesn’t actually “flush” from Flushing Bay, so a dredging project is fixing the bay’s odor problem.

A runway at LaGuardia Airport bottle-necks the bay, preventing the natural “flushing” of water out to sea. Over a period of years, raw-sewage has washed into the bay, though new sewer drains will reduce sewage flows to the bay. In the past, when it rained, runoff from nearby roadways carried pollutants and raw-sewage from storm drains into the bay. The “rotten egg” smell was most noticeable along the World’s Fair Marina, but wind can carry odors throughout the neighborhood. 

To address this issue, toxic sludge has been scooped from the bottom of Flushing Bay, improving water quality and significantly reducing bad odors. The project was largely completed in mid-2018.

What’s happening with parks in the area?  

8) While Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the biggest green space in the area and Flushing is also home to the Queens Botanical Garden, other parks are beloved and getting upgrades. 

At Bowne Park, a pond reconstruction project is expected to wrap up by the end of 2020.  This park is popular for its bocce ball courts, state-of-the-art jungle gym (with spray showers) and its annual Halloween festival. Pond visitors often feed geese, ducks and turtles or read under a curtain of weeping willows.

The much-used Kissena Corridor Park has a fully handicap-accessible playground that is getting upgraded with new spray showers, swings and more. It is also getting a meditation/healing garden in December 2019. The garden’s proximity to the Center for Radiation Oncology/New York Hospital of Queens will make it an ideal location for patients to take a break between appointments. 

What’s happening with transit upgrades?

9) Flusing’s LIRR station are getting ADA upgrades.

New elevators and other upgrades were recently completed at the station, making the station one of the first LIRR stations to become ADA compliant in the area. However, the Murray-Hill Station is following suit with platform improvements and new elevators expected by September 2019.

10) The Long Island Rail Road is expected to head to Grand Central by 2023.

By 2023, LIRR trains will be bigger and faster, and some will terminate at Grand Central Station. Once East Side Access construction is complete, riders can expect shorter commutes to Manhattan’s east side and a direct connection to Metro North lines. (Service to Penn Station should remain at the same frequency as today.)

Reverse commuting should become much easier. Currently, there are hour-long gaps between reverse commuter trains in the mornings (heading east) and evenings (heading west). With the new track, eight more AM and PM rush hour trains will run the reverse commute on the Main Line.

What’s happening with traffic in the area?

11) Many streets can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Traffic can be notoriously hectic in the area. Flushing was among the top 12 most dangerous areas for pedestrians and cyclists, according to a analysis of injuries and fatalities between 2013-2018.  The general boundaries or the most dangerous area was between College Point Avenue and Parsons Boulevard, from 37th to Franklin avenues. During that time 91 cyclists were injured, 571 pedestrians injured and 12 of the crashes killing pedestrians or cyclists, found.

And another analysis of the most dangerous intersections near a Queens public school were in Flushing. Near the Active Learning Elementary School, the intersection of Main Street and Franklin Avenue saw 25 crashes injuring pedestrians and cyclists over the past five years. Drop-off can be chaotic at the high-performing lottery-based school that attracts students throughout the district, from Corona to College Point. They arrive on foot, by school bus or by car — with cars often double parking, causing more congestion, school staffers say.  

12) Blocked driveways drive some locals mad.

Nearly 450 blocked driveways complaints were logged over the period of a year at Flushing’s 41-51 and 41-53 150th streets — the most in the city, according to a study. These driveways sit next to a small restaurant, El Ranchito de Daisy Salvadoreno, one of Flushing’s only Salvadoran spots. Restaurant patrons looking to park quickly on the short block seem to be overlooking the driveway boundaries. Most of the complaints were filed between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. 

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