Jan. 22, 2019 By Christian Murray
The city has released the findings of a task force put together last year to help create a framework for the development of large portion of Willets Point.
The community task force, chaired by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Francisco Moya, has put forward two possible plans for 17 acres of the 62-acre industrial area.
One scenario would bring a 25,000-seat soccer stadium to the area, with parking shared with Citi Field. This plan, put forward in very general terms, would also include retail space, open space, public services and residential buildings–offered at a range of affordability levels. Public services would include a fire station, police substation and a free-standing high school.
The alternative plan calls for the creation a high-density, mixed-use district. The plan would focus primarily on residential development, with some land set aside for retail, open space and public facilities. Public facilities include a fire station, police substation and a free-standing high school.
The task force’s findings come after a number of community workshops were held last year to determine how 17 of the 23 acres set aside for Phase 1 should be developed. The group–comprised of local officials and representatives of Community Boards 3, 4 and 7–came together after the city announced in February 2018 that 1,100 units of affordable housing would be built on 6 acres as part of Phase 1.
As part of the announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the formation of a task force.
Plans to develop Willets Point go back to 2002, when the Bloomberg administration announced its goal to overhaul the 62-acre area that was home to about 200 auto-repair shops and junk yards.
Ten years later, after several issues were resolved, the plans for Phase I — which was to cover 23 acres–were unveiled that would lead to the creation of a giant shopping center, with 875 affordable housing units and a school to follow years later.
The plans, however, involved taking over the city-owned parking lot that was used by Citi Field, deemed part of Flushing Meadow Park. A state court nixed the project by ruling that the park land could not be used for the development.
De Blasio’s announcement last year got the development back on track.
The first phase of the Willets Point development is being built by The Related Companies and Sterling Equities, as in the initial plans.
The companies are expected to use the task force’s recommendations in drafting specific plans. There is no deadline for the companies to submit a firm proposal.