WILLETS POINT, QUEENS (PIX11) – The City Council approved Mayor Bloomberg’s $3 billion redevelopment plan for Willets Point in Queens. The vote was 42-3-1.
The redevelopment plan, headed by Related Co. and Sterling Industries, will include, among other items, a 1.4 million square-foot mall and apartments.
Part of Flushing Meadows Park will become part of the development. Developers and NYC’s Economic Development Corporation say that land is currently a parking lot. Critics call it a “give away.”
Advocates have been battling this proposal for months, saying small businesses will be pushed out and it includes too many benefits for developers. Increased car traffic and overcrowding are also issues at hand, activists say.
Part of this agreement includes $15.5 million to assist in the relocation, moving expenses and support for Willets Point businesses who may have been renting from owners whose property was purchased by the city. Also included is job skill training for Willets Point workers.
Council Member Julissa Ferreras said, “For the first time in history, the 21st Council District will finally have affordable housing, and in addition, all the other community benefits made possible through the agreement between the Administration and developers will undoubtedly have major positive impact for my constituents.”
The Queens Development Group said Wednesday, “Today’s approvals mean that the historic vision for a redeveloped Willets Point is finally going to become a reality. Thanks to today’s actions, we are going to transform a contaminated site into a new community with thousands of new jobs, affordable housing, retail, and open space.”
The plan includes some 2,000 units of affordable housing. 875 of which will be built in the initial phase. An additional 300 units were added to this phase.
The plan has already been approved by the Planning Commission and Queens Borough President, Helen M. Marshall.
The council reached an agreement on the future of 5Pointz, the graffiti-covered warehouse in Long Island City that has become an art tourism destination. The developer’s request for a change in the height restriction was granted. The owner did not need city approval to tear down the building.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer says a deal has been struck that would provide up to 12,000 square feet for artists and new open space and hundreds of jobs.