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Thread: Iron Triangle in Queens to Be Redeveloped

  1. #136
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    City pulls back curtain on Willets Point plan

    The Bloomberg administration Thursday revealed the terms of its deal with Related Cos. and Sterling Equities for a $3 billion project on a forlorn Queens site.

    By Daniel Massey


    The developers of Willets Point (see rendering above) will start by spending up to two years
    cleaning up a 23-acre swath of Willets that needs extensive remediation.


    After years of fits and starts, the city has settled on a deal to revitalize a portion of Willets Point. It has agreed to terms with two major developers on the $3 billion project, but may have given opponents of the redevelopment new leverage to fight it.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday that the agreement with Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, details of which were leaked last month, gets the city exactly what it wanted in the first phase of what is to be a 62-acre Queens project, but over an extended time frame.

    Because rundown Willets Point is far from ready to attract homebuyers, Related and Sterling will push back the housing component of the plan until 2025, a decision that has upset local elected officials. The developers will start by spending up to two years cleaning up a 23-acre swath of Willets that needs extensive remediation—nearly twice the 12-plus acres called for in the city's request for proposals. The developers then plan to build a 200-room hotel just to the east of Citi Field along 126th Street, as well as a retail strip and temporary parking lots.

    After that, they will add a new component to the project—an approximately 1 million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex on the parking lot just west of Citi Field. Tentatively called Willets West, the mall will connect Willets Point and Citi Field to Corona, expanding the scope of the redevelopment and creating thousands more jobs.

    Once the mall west of Citi Field is built, the developers plan to start construction of up to 2,500 housing units, 35% of which would be affordable, and more retail space east of the stadium. In all, the project entails 5 million square feet of new development.

    The city negotiated for a clause that would force the developers to pay $35 million if they don't break ground on the housing by 2025. The city could also replace the developers at that point.

    "Unlike any other proposal, it includes everything we were looking for in the first phase, exactly as envisioned and approved by the community and City Council back in 2008," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a breakfast Thursday sponsored by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. "Does it include everything on everyone's wish list and on the time line we were hoping for? No. But it is a strong proposal that will allow us to completely transform Willets Point into a vibrant community and destination."

    The developers did not pay anything for the land, prompting opponents of the project to contend that the city reversed course. They pointed to a 2008 City Council hearing, where under questioning from then-City Councilman Hiram Monserrate, former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber said the city's "goal would be to get the city taxpayer money back."

    The city estimated that the project would generate $3 billion in private investment and create 12,000 union construction jobs and 7,100 permanent jobs. It's expected to bring in $310 million in construction tax revenues and $150 million in annual tax revenues. "The market responded to what is feasible, and this is a clear, achievable path to the vision that the City Council approved," said a spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp.

    Jeff Blau, Related's president, said the project would "serve as a catalyst for future development and investment."

    The new project will need the imprimatur of the City Council, which must approve zoning adjustments pertaining to the temporary parking lots. The project likely will not go through the city's laborious land-use review process again.

    Given that the council will need to weigh in on the project, it was noteworthy that no council members were present at the Thursday morning announcement.

    "I'm concerned with the housing being put out until 2025," said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, whose district includes Willets Point. "I would hope we'd have some better options."

    A scrappy group of landowners that has opposed the city's plans to redevelop Willets Point is now hopeful it can capitalize on the council's new power over the project.

    "After all of the controversy, after all of the anxiety and after all of the effort to remove people from their property, for a project that was supposed to be for all kinds of public benefits, all we are left with is a mall—a $3 billion mall that the city is giving as a gift to two developers," said Jake Bono, a property owner and spokesman for Willets Point United. "We fully expect and hope that the City Council will send this newly conceived Willets Point project into the wastebasket, where it properly belongs."

    Mr. Bloomberg said on Thursday that the city has acquired more land from property owners in the phase-one area, upping its control to 95% from 90%. The city wants to avoid condemning land through eminent domain, but hasn't ruled it out. Five parcels, controlled by four owners, remain in private hands. Officials are in discussions with three of the owners.

    The Related/Sterling plan was the only one of four proposals the city received that didn't seek substantial subsidies, a rezoning or continued city liability at the site. The city's budget for the project hasn't changed—it still has about $400 million earmarked—but some of that money will be moved around to help the developers with remediation and infrastructure. Economic activity from the initial parts of Related/Sterling project will allow the city to put $65 million into its capital budget for 2020 to build Van Wyck Expressway ramps that must accompany the housing.

    The selection of the Related/Sterling plan virtually ensures that one of Mr. Bloomberg's signature economic development initiatives will not get off the ground before he leaves office. Assuming approvals are granted, the new plan calls for remediation to begin in 2014.

    The challenges of Willets Point have bedeviled officials for decades. In 2007, Mr. Bloomberg appeared to be on his way to a solution, calling the area's future "very bright indeed." But his ambitious plan for 5,500 units of housing, 500,000 square feet of office space, and 1.7 million square feet of retail space, hotels and a convention center was based largely on a real estate boom that abruptly ended. The city then broke the project into phases. The first one finally appears to be on track.

    "Willets Point is one of those things that's gone on and on and on," Mr. Bloomberg said. "It may have taken a long time but we are going ahead with a plan that is very innovative, creative, fits the needs, is affordable and we have guarantees this is going to get done on time, on budget, on schedule and make a very big difference in our city."


  2. #137
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    Man Bloomberg is a mess. He thinks a giant mall will make this area vibrant? Has he even seen how disconnected this area is from the rest of Queens?

    The decision to move the residential portion onto the backburner is terrible. How will this be vibrant when Citifield is isolated between a bunch of highways a river that stinks and a giant park?

  3. #138

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    The "willets west" component seems to be built on the same spot as old shea stadium

    If you go in the lot now they've plaques where the bases use to be.
    -- and its treated reverently by nets fans
    I like the idea of a stadium entertainment complex but thought they'd eventually develop lot B which is right on front if Citi Field--

  4. #139

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    Despite being late to this thread I've followed this site from time-to-time for nearly 10 years. Contrary to other posters, I've always liked Flushing Meadows Park. From biking (ten bucks an hour can't be beat) to row boating, I've always found it to be a hidden jewel despite massive weekend crowds and summer festivals. Personally I've always found it "safer" than Prospect Park and although not as beautiful as Central Park I've also always felt it was "almost" great. Maybe restoring the crumbling State Pavilion (the "Tent of Tomorrow" and revolving observation towers) would bring back that feel of greatness. Even so, from the nearby theater located in the shadow of those towers, to the lake, to the new ice rink/aquatic center, to the Unisphere, to the museum, to the small zoo, to the Hall of Science, to the USTA grounds, Flushing Meadows already has much to offer. I'd consider it the second best park in the all of the city and guess that it might even be the busiest if counting USTA and Shea/Citi Field attendance numbers. I have no numbers to back that up but it has to be close.

    Anyway, to have Citi Field anchored by a mall is almost as depressing as the current chop-shops inside the Iron Triangle. How does another mall open the area to non-locals? How does it add to the global feel created by the USTA and the Unishpere itself? How does it match the environment of existing stadiums and iconic park structures?

    Instead, I'd like to see the new Jacob Javitz built on the parking lot just west of the stadium. Using the parking lot for a new convention center would save Manhattan travelers 30 minutes (each way) from the proposed Aquaduct Race Track plan. Between the highways, LIRR and 7 train it would also offer more options to and from Manhattan than Aquaduct.

    The city owned lots at the Iron Triangle can then be leveled and used as a replacement parking lot until the entire area is bought out. Once that happens, a hotel, or housing, or more parkland, or something new, like a soccer specific stadium can be added. But a mall? And only a few miles north of the Queens Center Mall? Is it too late to go back to the drawing board?

  5. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuddenImpact View Post
    Is it too late to go back to the drawing board?
    Not sure, as I understand it the Mets owners are being given a sweetheart deal with hundreds of millions in free land and no obligation to build any residential space for the next 15 years. If the deal isn't finalized by contract, then I imagine the next mayor could just start over. Bloomberg is at the end of the line for this project and he's not going to change plans again

  6. #141

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    Quote Originally Posted by GordonGecko View Post
    Not sure, as I understand it the Mets owners are being given a sweetheart deal with hundreds of millions in free land and no obligation to build any residential space for the next 15 years. If the deal isn't finalized by contract, then I imagine the next mayor could just start over. Bloomberg is at the end of the line for this project and he's not going to change plans again
    Thanks for the reply, GG. I'll keep my fingers crossed that thing aren't finalized. Not for a mall at least.

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  8. #143

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    I wondered what can be worse than a mall, then a Walmart super store came along. The sketch looks heinous:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/...sEnabled=false

    Again... Hoping the parking lot can be the site of a new Jacob Javitz Center and Willets is used as a parking lot until toxicity levels drop and bigger/better plans are drawn up.

  9. #144
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    WalMart.

    Good grief no.

  10. #145

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    One of these days they're going to find a vacant big box, and just move in without making it public beforehand.

  11. #146
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    And that is special, how?

    WalMart kills competition by leveraging and other unfair business practices. But this particular objection is more because the WalMart store looks like CRAP next to a rather interesting modern/retro design used for Mets Stadium. the LEAST they could do is ditch or soften the logo and go brick in their rendering instead of that plastic marketing explosion shown on the sketch.

  12. #147

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    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012...ecific-stadium

    New soccer stadium heading to Queens?


    The stadium, plotted for the section of the park called The Fountain of Planets, would be the home field for the city's first major professional soccer team since the Cosmos

    edit: So the state (via MLS) has to replace about 10 acres of park land in order to biuld the stadium on existing park land.. so why not have MLS buy the willets point tract and turn 10 acres of it into parkland?.. this way they go ahead with the 2 part plan and buy the rest of the surrounding area as park land.. with an MLS stadium to the south
    Last edited by BiggieSmalls; August 26th, 2012 at 10:26 PM.

  13. #148
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    So Wang just signed a 25 year lease for the Islanders to play in Brooklyn. So much for the Wilpons' (Mets Owners) plan to build them an arena in Flushing. They're still going to try to build an MLS stadium though



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    What are you expecting in the Willets West Complex? 126th street across from Citi and Willets west SHould be retail and entertainment as their core with a hotel anchoring the development. Would you expect housing? the city and Sterling want to create a sports / entertainment hub.. shopping is a natural addition.. there is no expectation of anything of grand height based on the location..

    The MLS stadium look like it is steam rolling ahead.. The news of a UAE Sheik (who owns Manchester City) buying the franchise has leaked.
    http://www.qchron.com/editions/queen...63ccbd1c9.html
    maybe the sheik wants to get involved in the entertainment/ end of the complex..but real excitement is this gets done with out any additional public funds..

    and with no tax payer funds used why NOT turn a polluted fake lake that is off limits into a 35,000 seat soccer stadium? the agreement to improve the public fields all around the stadium looks like a win / win..

    as to the issue of replacing parkland -- just buy up the phase 2/3 areas of the Iron triangle and turn it into parkland.. i think that end of the "point" has some decent vistas around where the ferries come in.. build a few levels of parking below the retail to make up for the lost parking in willets west.. you need a bus to get to some of the far reaches of that lot anyways

    barclays has a great niche for the outer boroughs.. no need to duplicate that in queens.. i wonder how many fans the barclays will sit for hockey/

    exciting times in sports/entertainment development..
    Last edited by BiggieSmalls; May 2nd, 2013 at 05:28 PM.

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