Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pie in the Sky View

Real Deal is reporting that Bob's Furniture is the latest tenant at the 800,000 sq. ft. Sky View Parc development of the Muss Organization: "Sky View Center, the 800,000-square foot shopping center at Sky View Parc, located at College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens, has welcomed its newest retailer, Bob's Discount Furniture."

But, as the Real Deal reports, the development is not yet fully leased: "Sky View Center is more than 70 percent leased and will open in phases with the entire Center expected to be open in early 2011." Which means that around 200,000 sq. ft. remains untenanted-and the leasing process has been slowed by the recession. Which in our minds raises some serious questions about the viability of the retail portion of the Flushing Commons project, just around 1/4 of a mile away in downtown Flushing.

Given the traffic challenges of operating in the center of downtown Flushing it remains to be seen if, "destination retail," will ever opt to locate at the proposed site-and we don't think that EDC has done any real due diligence in this regard. But it does highlight the box store mania of EDC and the Bloombergistas-an obsession that has shown little concern over the collateral damages that are inflicted on neighborhood commerce.

But given the effort to fully lease Sky Parc-and the huge retail mall that is proposed for Willets Point (the largest car dependent mall in the city if it eventually does get built)-not to mention the large retail complex in College Point at 20th Avenue, is it really necessary to devote 250,000 sq. ft. at Flushing Commons to large retail use? How much more business will the Bloombergistas look to divert from the city's 200+ neighborhood shopping strips? Given the slew of EISes that fraudulently indicate that this or that retail mall will have no effect on the local stores, the answer to this question is probably that, there simply is no limit to the assault being planned on small businesses all over the city.

But with the situation at Flushing Commons, the inclusion of this large chunk of destination retail is both injurious as well as unnecessary. It will add nothing to the economic development of the city or the Flushing neighborhood-while serving to choke the parking lifeblood out of the downtown Flushing community-as we have pointed out on a number of different times. The center of downtown Flushing is the absolute worst location for such box store retail use. For Flushing Commons to make any sense, the retail component needs to be put to a welcome death.