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Thread: Iron Triangle in Queens to Be Redeveloped

  1. #61


    I love it when a plan comes together.

    October 26th, 2009
    The Economic Development Corporation has issued a Request for Qualifications to interested developers. It reads: “The maximum development for this area includes 980,000 square feet of destination and entertainment retail; 2,000 units of mixed income housing; 500,000 square feet of office space; 400 hotel rooms; a school; and open space and parking.” Mr. Wang and Mr. Rechler, make your move.

    I Suspect the issuance of the RFQ is directed squarely at Wang and the floundering Lighthouse Project.

    Most Islander fans in that forum are absolutely giddy about a potential move to Queens. More constituents backing the development means full steam ahead..

    Put pen to paper Wang and get it done.

  2. #62


    Has the issue of territorial rights by the Rangers been resolved?

    Haven't been following the Lighthouse project too closely, but I know that...

    1. Rangers blocked the Devils move to AY in Brooklyn.

    2. Design of AY arena is too narrow for NHL.

    3. Islanders lose about $20 million a year.

    4. Suffolk County (Brentwood site?) has expressed interest.

    5. Several other cities have expressed interest.

    Assuming the NHL gets involved and brokers a deal with the Rangers (I doubt they would put any pressure on the Rangers given other cities wanting a team), would there be some sort of yearly royalty? The Dolans would love that.

  3. #63


    I read the Islanders paid a territorial fee to the Rangers / NHL in 1972 when they came into the league and no other fees would be required.

    With the economic climate int he NHL and the Islanders mounting losses I would think Bettman would intervene and support the Islanders move west a few miles .

    I was not aware of the rangers blocking a devils move to AY. Ironic that "The Rock" is arguably closer to MSG than AY and an similar trip on the train.

    Im not an Islanders fan and have followed the LHP tangentially in the past few months -- its a fascinating project really and is MUCH larger is scale than what would be proposed in WP but includes many of the same elements as what was submitted in the FGEIS and rezoning.

    I understand Kansas City had a desire for the Islanders franchise. That would have to involve Wang selling as he is a "NY/LI guy" who bought the team for its local flavor. Suffolk? umm.. OK.. that would serve to alienate more of the Westchester, NYC, NJ Islander fans who are crowing about the trip to Nassau for games. Canada is always an option i guess.

    true that the current AY design is too small for hockey and doesnt seem to be an option right now.

    I think the major stumbling block here is can the area support another arena in terms of events ON TOP of Barclays.?

  4. #64


    Quote Originally Posted by BiggieSmalls View Post
    I read the Islanders paid a territorial fee to the Rangers / NHL in 1972 when they came into the league and no other fees would be required.
    The Devils had to pay a territorial fee to the Rangers (and I think also to the Islanders) when they moved from KC. At the time, much of that had to do with TV, most of which was air waves, not cable.

    Can't find any definite rulings, but it may come down to political boundaries. Article 4.1 of the NHL charter: "each member shall have exclusive territorial rights in the city in which it is located and within 50 miles of that city’s corporate limits."

    In the NFL, when the Raiders moved to LA, the (then LA) Rams demanded territorial compensation. The Raiders challenged in court, and won. However, I don't think there was a territorial provision in the NFL charter.

    There is a case in Canada involving the Maple Leafs that's headed to court.

  5. #65



    The Iron Trapezoid

    City takes phased approach to Willets Point redevelopment

    The city is moving forward with its redevelopment plan for Willets Point, albeit in a phased approach.
    Courtesy NYC EDC

    Despite the stagnant real estate market in New York City, the Bloomberg administration has decided to go ahead with plans for one of its landmark redevelopment projects, the transformation of Willets Point from a down-and-out mechanics row to a gleaming new community complete with a mid-size convention center. At the same time, because of the stagnant real estate market, the city is taking a different approach with its plans, having released on Monday a request for qualifications for the project that focuses on redeveloping an 18-acre swath of the 62-acre area that rezoned almost a year ago.

    The RFQ is seeking developers to build a retail and commercial hub along the western edge of Willets Point, known as “Area A.” This staged approach presents a number of potential advantages beyond its lesser cost compared to a wholesale redevelopment. Area A is on parcels bordering the new Mets Stadium as well as being the densest part of the development because it is outside the LaGuardia flight path, both of which make it more appealing for investment. Also, the city controls the most property out of the three areas, as it has been working to buy out the scrap yards, auto body shops, and factories that have dominated Willets Point for decades.

    A rendering showing the proposed phases of the project.

    “Area A is envisioned to become an urban residential community with fantastic views and a dynamic skyline,” according to the RFQ. “Residential and commercial uses are stacked above retail to create an integrated (24/7) neighborhood.” The area would include 980,000 square feet of retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space, 430 hotel rooms, 2,100 residential units, and possibly a school. Building heights are planned to rise as high as 215 feet, providing quite the views over Citifield’s right field wall.

    And while the convention center, seen as a lynchpin to the project’s success, will not likely be built in the first phase, its location has been determined as part of the RFQ. The city had been considering both the eastern and northern edges of the site, though the latter, now known as “Area C” won out. The eastern parcels of “Area B” will be dedicated to residential uses—roughly 3,000 units—and local retail.(Oddly enough, the alternative proposal is the one shown on the cover of the RFQ.)

    A rendering showing the land-use ideas undergirding the project.

    The entire development is one of a handful being put forward by the city as pilot for the U.S. Green Building’s new LEED for Neighborhood Development program. As part of this effort, the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is developing the project, is creating a special set of design guidelines with Beyer Blinder Belle. “Willets Point Design Guidelines are being developed to supplement the Special Zoning District and convey additional goals for urban design, pedestrian experience, streetscape, open space and architectural character,” according to the RFQ. The city expects to release those guidelines next year along with a more formal request for proposals, assuming the RFQ generates enough interest.

    “The release of this Request for Qualifications once again moves the Willets Point project, one of the largest in our borough’s history, another step forward and closer to reality,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, a long-standing proponent of the project. “Each step forward gives us a clearer vision of a plan that will redevelop Willets Point in way that will capitalize on the resources surrounding it, including recreational uses and a network of highways, while strengthening the entire region.

    The city sees its plan as a more economically vigorous use for Willets Point, though the auto and industrial businesses
    that populate the 62-acre Iron Triangle see themselves as victims of neglect.

    The city is proceeding cautiously with its plan, but it makes clear in the RFQ that the project could change at any point, getting bigger or smaller as the market dictates. A big factor in its progress is the businesses that remain in Area A. As opposition to the rezoning of the area reached a groundswell last year, with local business contending the only blight in the area was caused by longstanding neglect from the city, the Economic Development Corporation began negotiating with landlords in the area in order to avoid eminent domain at the site.

    The agency has paraded out announcements every few months or so, and ownership in Area A now stands at 70 percent. “We are in active discussions with several additional land owners within the first development stage and would like to acquire all the privately-held property by negotiated acquisition,” Janel Patterson, and EDC spokesperson, said in an email. She noted that the city also controls roughly 60 percent within the entire 62-acre district. Representatives for two local business groups did not return requests for comment.

    One thing is clear, however. Despite the changing economy, the city has not drastically reconsidered its plans. While the RFQ notes that a 4-acre buffer zone would be created between Area A and the remaining businesses, Patterson said there was little chance those businesses might be allowed to stay for good. “Industrial users in the eastern portion will eventually have to be moved,” she said.

    Matt Chaban

    Copyright © 2003-2008 | The Architect's Newspaper, LLC

  6. #66


    I would imagine should Charles Wang get involved the configuration would change substantially.

    Although the usage sq footages would remain the same to comply with the GEIS.

    THere has been a ground swell of support from Islanders fans regarding the prospect of moving the team to Willets Point.

    the fan comments in this forum above are almost unanimously for the relocation to Queens.

    good stuff.

    I have always been curious as to why the MTA parcel has been excluded from the plan

  7. #67


    The MTA property would have to get the state and the EDC involved.

  8. #68


    NYC EDC is running the show now -- Pinsky and Leiber have been driving this whole project.. MTA needs the cash.. do you mean ESDC?

    I read that MTA says they need the land and are out of the deal.. seems wierd to have a multi billion dollar development with an 11 acre undedeveloped tract right next to it.. MAYBE the MTA sells out after it is all built out for a multiple of what they would get now.

  9. #69
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    What happens if a few parcel owners won't sell? Glass towers next to run down garages?

    If they ever try to use eminent domain here, I smell some even bigger lawsuits - the property values are super-depressed mainly thanks to the city and state withholding basic services fo decades... like paving... and utilities.

    I mean, where else in NY do they refuse to fix sewers? Seems no one gives a crap outside of the people who own businesses there.

  10. #70


    The EDPL Hearings (Eminent Domain Procedure Law) are right around the corner. Anyone who doesnt sell will end up with fair market value,.

    This is a text book use of Eminent Domain. And the NY courts routinely support these takings.

    Go to Howard Beach in Southern Queens. THey have the same issues with the lack of sewers in a flood plain. But Howard Beach doesnt look like little Beirut.

    The property values are what they are.. People who bought there knew what they were buying.. property without access to city sewer services -- they use cesspools for sewage. They all have utilities of course and the roads were just paved in April.

    Just becuase they dont have sewers doesnt mean they should be dumping anti freeze and used oil/hydraulic fluids in the soil -- along with many other environmental offenses -- for 70 years

  11. #71


    With the NY Courts affirmation of the Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Procedure how long b4 they kick off EDPL hearings om Willets Pt?

    I say shortly after the RFQs are due in Mid December.

    Wanger.. you listening? Send something in.

  12. #72


    Court Upholds Willets Point Redevelopment Plan

    A federal judge on Wednesday upheld New York’s $3 billion redevelopment plan for Willets Point, an industrial section of Queens dominated by car-repair shops and waste-management businesses, finding that although the city had neglected the neighborhood’s infrastructure for decades, the constitutional rights of the businesses there — many of which will be forced to relocate under the plan — were not violated.
    The plaintiffs, who organized themselves into an entity called the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association, and who “have established thriving businesses (notwithstanding the grossly inadequate infrastructure of the area)” and employ hundreds of people, “are understandably aggrieved by the fact that the plan that the city is in the process of implementing has no place for them,” the judge, Edward R. Korman of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, wrote. However, he ruled, it was not the place of federal judges to intervene in the dispute.
    Judge Korman’s 22-page ruling did not dispute that the area has long suffered from neglect.
    Originally a swamp, and later a dumping site for ash and garbage, Willets Points first underwent efforts at redevelopment in 1939, when part of the landfill was converted into fairgrounds for the World’s Fair, and machine shops and garages started to be built in the area. By 1950, Judge Korman wrote, small factories, auto-related shops and storage facilities “cemented the industrial character of the area.”
    By some lights, however, Willets Point has made little progress from its swampy origins. It lacks a sanitary sewer system, its streets are unpaved or riddled with potholes and its curbs and sidewalks, if they can even be called that, have worn away. Broken fire hydrants and an absence of trash removal round out the picture of blight, Judge Korman wrote.
    Robert Moses, the development czar, contemplated turning Willets Point into parking for nearby Shea Stadium (now replaced by Citi Field) and a fairground for the 1964 World’s Fair — a plan that Mario M. Cuomo, then a young lawyer, helped frustrate. In 1991 and 1993, the Queens borough president, Claire Shulman, commissioned studies that confirmed that the deplorable infrastructure would hinder development.
    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s redevelopment plan was approved by the City Council, 42 to 2, last November. It calls for new sanitary and stormwater sewers, more power lines and new roadways and bicycle lanes. It also seeks new mixed-use development — including, possibly, a hotel and convention center — but envisions sweeping away the current industrial uses through eminent domain.
    Judge Korman expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs whose property would be acquired by the government (with compensation) but found that they lacked a federal claim. “The timing of this lawsuit as well as plaintiffs’ own admissions at oral argument suggests,” he wrote, that the “real purpose of their lawsuit is to obstruct and forestall the implementation of the approved plan.”

  13. #73


    Boro bikers go hog wild in Willets Point

    Willets Point United member owning 4,000 sq feet of land on 34ave at 126th place actively looking to do land swap with EDC for a new MC Club..

    Sounds good to me.. put the club in College Point

    get it done.

  14. #74
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Here Lies Willets Point

    by David Vines

    Daniel Sambucci opened up shop in Willets Point fifty-nine years ago. Across the street from him sat a pond where his kids would skate when it froze over in the winter. Now when Sambucci, 79, looks across the street from 126 36th Avenue, he finds himself under the ominous shadow of a gargantuan $900 million baseball stadium. He knows there is more development coming and his days in Willets Point are numbered.

    "There is a lot of blood sweat and tears that went into this business," says Angela Sambucci, Daniel's daughter and now the self-described secretary of Sambucci Brothers Inc., an auto salvage company that has been in business since 1951. "But you can't beat $16 billion," Daniel chimes in, referring to Mayor Bloomberg's estimated net worth.

    Daniel has a modest but cozy office tucked into the corner of his store. Just outside of it, his adult children and teenage grandchildren are busy answering phones and talking to customers. The wooden walls are painted a light mint-green, a six-foot Jesus statue, his head bowed and a look of peace on his face, stands in the back-left corner. On his desk sits a short stack of papers, a bottle of Purell, and a roll of paper towels. Three roles of fly tape hang from the ceiling, each having claimed its share of winged victims. The far-right corner features a wooden cross, a mini fridge, and a carefully crafted sculpture of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and a young Jesus.

    After a beat of silence, Angela glances at the wall behind her. On that wall hangs a framed photo of Rocky Marciano's legendary punch that knocked out then-heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott in the thirteenth round of their 1952 championship fight. Surrounding it are eight framed photos of young Sambuccis, all with glowing smiles on their faces. "My father is here, he doesn't want to give up his business. His sons are here, and their sons are here. You know, they don't want to give it up," she says.


    Willets Point sprawls across sixty-two acres between the Flushing River and the New York Mets' Citi Field in Queens. It is filled almost exclusively with small auto repair shops and junkyards--although it would be excusable for one to mistake the entire area for a junkyard. Almost all of the shops in Willets Point are family owned. There is not an AutoZone in sight.

    Since the 1960s there have been numerous proposals for the city to redevelop the "Iron Triangle," as the area is known among the locals. "In the 60s, under different administrations, they'd say 'Let's develop this area,'" Angela recalls. "Back then Mario Cuomo was just a young lawyer on the rise." "A good lawyer," her father adds. "So he took his case to fight it, and he won," Angela continues. "But now when they came in under Mayor Bloomberg, we sort of felt like this time, something's going to happen."

    In May of 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan for urban renewal in Willets Point. Two years later, the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced that it would invest $100 million into infrastructure projects in Queens, including development in Willets Point.

    The NYCEDC aims to create more than 5,300 permanent jobs and 18,000 construction jobs with this project. Their vision of a new Willets Point includes a luxury hotel, a convention center, office space, and new parks and playgrounds, culminating in what they predict to be a $1.3 billion benefit to the city in thirty years. However, there is no easy solution regarding what to do with the current businesses in Willets Point, which are employing hundreds of workers.

    The Sambuccis have been through a lot in their years in Willets Point, and they are proud to still be standing today. "Thirty years ago a group of Koreans came here and they wanted to build a church," Daniel recalls. "They offered me $3 million, but my son had quit college and he liked the yards so what was I going to do? I couldn't take it, and we're still here."

    But this time, the future looks bleak. The Sambuccis feel that Mayor Bloomberg's plan might be the $100 million straw that finally breaks the camel's back. "Look across the street, look where we are," says Angela, one hand waving at the office window. Outside, a dismantled car seemingly glides through the air until seconds later, a yellow forklift is revealed, hauling the beat-up red sedan to the yard behind the building. As the forklift passes, that shiny new baseball stadium looms beyond the closed window. "They're building all these condos, do you think they're going to keep us here?" asks Angela. "They've already shown us plans where there are flower pots on our land, and I'm like 'Wait, isn't that my property?'"


    The stench of gasoline and mud, with a hint of warm beer fills the cold winter air and mingles with merengue music blasting from every shop that has its radio on in Willets Point. There are no sidewalks in the entire neighborhood--most people prefer to drive anyhow. The streets are spotted with potholes that have filled up with the weekend's melted snow, creating an archipelago of pavement.

    "It looks like Iraq out there," Daniel Sambucci says.

    The Master Express Deli and Restaurant sits on the right side of the street on Willets Point Boulevard. Inside the deli, a man in his mid-30s sits at a small black table and chows down a chicken sandwich for lunch. Rucco trots over to the man enjoying his sandwich and looks up, eyeing his meal, before cocking his head to the right. After a minute, Rucco, no longer interested, saunters away.

    Rucco is a rooster.

    At the end of 127th street, near the intersection at 34th Avenue, a young black man wearing a Yankee hat stops his vehicle--a red Toyota Camry with four flame stickers, about the right size for a Matchbox car, haphazardly stuck on the rear passenger door. As he steps out, a man driving a white flatbed truck pulls up behind him and yells, "This is a street not a ****ing parking lot!" Startled, the 20-something hops back into his car and, avoiding confrontation, pulls it closer to the driveway of the adjacent muffler store. The flatbed speeds down the street while the silver Honda it's carrying experiences a violent piggyback ride, bouncing from side to side as the truck dips into each pothole.

    Arias Auto Body is a small shop with a green and black awning located at the heart of Willets Point. Inside, a mechanic is sawing through metal car parts as a customer stands off to the side sipping coffee. "I have no idea what we can do to stop it, but these guys say we need to move," says a man named Jorge, who has worked for nine years at Arias Auto Body. He lives in Jackson Heights and, when not working in Willets Point, works a second job in a kitchen. "It's a tough choice for them," he says, speaking of the proposed development project. "I mean it is good for the city to develop, but it is going to be tough for us because so many people will lose their jobs." When asked what he thinks will happen to the shop he's known for almost a decade, he simply shrugs. "I have no idea."

    Manny Cabrera has worked for six years at Muffler-Rims-Tires, a tiny shop with a steel roll-down gate spotted with inelegant graffiti. He echoes Jorge's concerns about the development project: "It is no good because everybody will lose their jobs and right now it's not easy to find jobs."

    Then, he adds with a slight grin, "If you make a little money you can pay the rent. That's all I need."

    A husky white man with a short grey beard sits behind the office desk at H+S Auto Wrecking. Two pieces of paper hang on the left wall, both reading "NO CASH REFOUNDS." The erroneous "o" on both signs has been crossed out with a thin black pen. As a Univision soap opera murmurs from the stout TV in the back corner, the man behind the desk briefly shares his thoughts on Bloomberg's plan for Willets Point. "I got nothing to say to you. It's no good. Bye."

    Further south on Willets Point Boulevard, a tin trashcan filled with white cardboard burns in the street. As the flame begins to die down, a man named German chucks a few more sheets of cardboard inside, and a new match to boot. German has been working in Willets Point for twelve years and says that the area has hardly changed. Only difference is, "Now there are even more holes in the street than there were before," he says.

    However, he has a surprisingly optimistic outlook for the future. "It's good.

    We can survive. I don't know where we'd move, but we can survive."


    "Any time you have eminent domain on the table, you're really negotiating with a gun to your head," says Richard Lipsky. Lipsky is a lobbyist for Willets Point United and the spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, where he fights for small businesses and against large-scale developments in New York.

    "The Willets Point businesses don't deserve to be thrown out on their behinds in a process that has been corrupted by political favoritism and the type of shenanigans that we've seen," Lipsky claims. The "shenanigans" of which he speaks involve the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona LDC (Local Development Corporation) whose acting President and CEO, Claire Shulman, registered her corporation with the IRS as one prohibited from lobbying. After Willets Point business owners complained, she was fined a record $59,000 last July for failing to register as a lobbyist.

    "The city paid her good money and she, in turn, went to the City Council and other elected officials to try to get them to support this project," says Jerry Antonacci, the owner of Crown Container, a waste removal business that has been in Willets Point since 1959. "In essence, the city paid her to lobby themselves."

    The Flushing-Willets Point-Corona LDC did not respond to numerous calls asking for comment.

    But Lipsky's concerns do not end with the welfare of the area's small business owners. He worries that because of the troubling economic times, this project could end in a disaster for everybody. "The question that the city needs to ask is 'Okay, given the economic climate, how are we going to pay for all of this work and will there be a developer at the end of the process that will have the money to complete this work, or are we just going to be left with some kind of empty lot like they have in New London?'" he said, referring to the controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London. In that case, the Connecticut property seized by eminent domain has yet to be developed, and the company that benefited from the ruling, Pfizer, has given up plans to develop the area altogether.


    If everything goes according to plan, there are enticing economic and business benefits in Mayor Bloomberg's development proposal. Julia Vitullo-Martin, the director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Tri-State Area's Regional Plan Association, doesn't like the idea of evicting the current Willets Point business owners and thinks that Bloomberg's proposal has "a ton of question marks attached to it." However, she believes that the environmental benefits are reason enough to support redevelopment in Willets Point.

    "There are very serious environmental issues at Willets Point--laughably so, as a matter of fact. People have been dumping all sorts of bad stuff on the street for decades and this stuff goes right into the bay," says Martin. Although she thinks that a perfect plan has yet to be proposed, she insists, "It's pretty clear that the one thing that cannot happen is a continuance of the current situation."

    Imposing stricter environmental standards on the established Willets Point businesses might be a quick way to patch up the current environmental problems, but Martin is convinced that can't be done. "I think it truly is impossible at this point," she says.

    When asked about Lipsky's concern that developing the area would create 80,000 new vehicle trips in Flushing every weekday, therefore clogging traffic and increasing the city's carbon footprint, Martin chuckles. "I don't believe that's worthy of a response," she says.

    However, State Senator Bill Perkins disagrees with Martin's claim that a cleanup of Willets Point is impossible. Perkins, representing New York's 30th Senatorial District, which covers Harlem and parts of the Upper West Side, is fighting for statewide eminent domain reform. In 2005, he joined then-State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson to call for a moratorium on eminent domain cases after the Kelo v. New London decision. Paterson said he was "offended" by the Supreme Court's ruling. "We are trying to create a fairer playing field for the local business owners," Perkins says.

    Regarding Willets Point, Senator Perkins believes the city made its own bed and now has to lie in it. "We in government are partially to blame for the condition of that area. We did not live up to our responsibilities to provide them with the appropriate infrastructure and environmentally-friendly waste-management systems." While he is adamant that the polluting of the Flushing Bay needs to be stopped, he believes that the city does have the capability to improve this blighted area without kicking the current business owners off their property.


    Back in the Sambuccis' office, Daniel and Angela mill around the room before Daniel takes a peek outside. He prides himself on keeping one of the neatest lots in Willets Point, and the city seems to be rewarding him for it.

    It is offering to buy out his business and help move it to College Point in Queens, a more gentrified neighborhood north of the Flushing Bay. "They are making reasonable offers to us," says Angela.

    However, Richard Lipsky believes that the city's relative generosity with the Sambuccis is not indicative of how they will treat other Willets Point property owners. "I think the city was eager to demonstrate some movement and so they looked to give the best deal possible for the high-end owners, the ones who own the most property," says Lipsky. "The rest of them won't have that luxury."

    "We belong in College Point. We're neater than anyone in College Point," says Daniel. Even though he has been reluctant to negotiate with the city, he sees the writing on the wall. "When I was young I would have chained myself to the fence. But now, I'm old. I just don't have it in me."

    All of this adds up to a bittersweet ending for the Sambucci Family. "I really don't want to give this up, but if the city is going to take care of me like they said they will, fine," says Daniel. But in the end, something about this process just doesn't sit right with him. "You might as well say my life was here. I'm 79, and I came down here as a kid," he continues. "What can you pay for a man's life?"

  15. #75
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    The wooden walls are painted a light mint-green, a six-foot Jesus statue, his head bowed and a look of peace on his face, stands in the back-left corner. The far-right corner features a wooden cross, a mini fridge, and a carefully crafted sculpture of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and a young Jesus.
    Hindu, perhaps?

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