Queens Borough President Greenlights Willets Point Development Plan

By Athena Dawson | [email protected]

The office of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. released a press release on Jan.10th  that details Richard’s recommendations for a conditional approval of  Phase II of the Willets Point redevelopment plan. The release comes a month after the borough president’s office’s Dec. 13 public hearing, where Richards and local residents brought forth questions to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and Queens Development Group.

Willets Point is a notoriously underdeveloped industrial neighborhood located within Corona Queens. The Willets Point redevelopment was first announced to the public in Nov. 2022 by Mayor Eric Adams. The EDC.nyc website details the plan including the creation of 2,500 new affordable homes, and boasts the project is “the largest 100-percent affordable, new construction housing project in New York City in 40 years.” 

A rendering of the planned NYCFC soccer stadium. Courtesy of Pythia Public.

Richards outlined in the press release the break down of Phase II of the redevelopment plan which “includes 1,400 units of affordable housing, a 25,000-seat soccer stadium to be used by Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club, a 250-room hotel, 80,000 square feet of commercial retail space, nearly three  acres of public open space and more.”  The plan would bring a projected 1,500 permanent and 14,200 construction jobs and generate a revenue of   $6.1 billion over the next 30 years.

The press release specifically highlighted to the development team a need for a written commitment to having more than half of the 1,400 units “be available at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).” The applicant team would also need to pledge to put together a list of community benefits . 

In addition to advocating for an AMI commitment, Richards recommended the applicant team put a level of commitment towards initiatives he highlighted in categories of local hiring, community partnerships and area infrastructure improvement. Some of the recommendations put forth include an emphasis on hiring minority and women owned businesses, the creation of a community advisory board, and applicant partnerships with NYC Department of  Parks and NYC Transit to upgrade green areas and improve transit to Willets Point. 

 Mayor Adams and other elected officials broke ground on 880 new affordable homes as part of Phase 1 of the redevelopment program on Dec. 20th, 2023. The event marked the start of construction on the project, which is occurring over a year ahead of schedule.  The Queens Ledger previously covered some of the controversy surrounding the project in July after carpenter union members rallied at City Hall. Union workers slammed the commitment to designate the prospective jobs to unionized construction workers as a false promise after they discovered the contractor hired by the city did not have an apprenticeship program.

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