Developer sought for Phase 1 of Willets Point District


Aerial View of Willets Point with Convention Center to the North. Image: Courtesy of EDC.

Willets Point 126th Street Across from CitiField. Image: Courtesy of EDC.

City targeting 12.75-acre site adjacent to Citi Field for first phase of construction. On May 9, 2011, The City’s Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals seeking a developer for Phase 1 of the Willets Point District redevelopment plan in Queens. The triangle-shaped Willets Point District comprises 61.4 acres generally bounded by Northern Boulevard, the Van Wyck Expressway, and 126th Street. The contentious redevelopment plan was approved by the City Council in November 2008. 5 CityLand 167 (Dec. 2008).

The Phase 1 site is a 12.75-acre parcel along 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue across from Citi Field. The approved program for Phase 1 construction would permit up to 400 units of mixed-income housing, 680,000 sq.ft. of retail space, and 387 hotel rooms. The developer must create at least 2.08 acres of publicly accessible open space. There will be 7.5 acres of unbuilt area buffering the Phase 1 site.

According to EDC, the City has reached agreements with the owners of nearly 90 percent of the land in the Phase 1 area. The City intends to reach negotiated settlements with the remaining property owners, but commenced the eminent domain process by holding a recent public hearing pursuant to the State’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law in March 2011.

A group of Willets Point property owners have been fighting the City’s approval of the redevelopment plan claiming, among other things, that the City did not explain the State and federal approvals process for new traffic ramps proposed along the Van Wyck Expressway. Justice Joan Madden dismissed the group’s article 78 challenge in August 2010. 7 CityLand 128 (Sept. 15, 2010). Justice Madden in March 2011, however, granted an order to show cause directing the City to explain why the court’s decision should not be vacated. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration and the State Department of Transportation recently authorized the City to commence the public review process for the proposed traffic ramps, which are now planned to be built in a later phase of the project. A public hearing on the ramps was scheduled for June 8, 2011.

EDC in October 2009 released a request for qualifications for Phase 1 construction. The request for proposals was directed to the 29 respondents to the request for qualifications. EDC will lead an inter-agency review committee to select the developer and plans to enter into a contract of sale in early 2012. Responses to the RFP must be submitted by August 12, 2011.

EDC: Request for ProposalsWillets Point Development Phase I (May 9, 2011).


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