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Plan Envisions a Vibrant, Mixed-use Neighborhood with Affordable Housing, Office and Retail Space, New Parks and Playgrounds, a Public School and Convention Center.
Largest "Green" Development will create 6,100 Permanent Jobs, 20,000 Construction Jobs and Have a $1.5 Billion Impact On the New York City Economy.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled the Master Plan for the Willets Point peninsula located on the Flushing River between Shea Stadium and Downtown Flushing in Northern Queens. The Plan includes the transformation and remediation of the contaminated 60-acre area - one of the most contaminated in the City - into a vibrant, mixed-use district with affordable housing, office and retail space, new parks and playgrounds, a new public school, cultural and community uses and a state-of-the-art convention center and hotel. This will be the first neighborhood, and the City's largest development project to incorporate "green" building technology. The redevelopment will create 20,000 construction jobs and 6,100 permanent jobs for a total positive economic impact on the New York City economy over the next 30 years of more than $1.5 billion. Joining the Mayor at the announcement at the Queens Museum of Art were Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Robert C. Lieber.
"For far too long, the Willets Point peninsula in Northern Queens has been an area marked by unrealized potential and neglect, inhibiting growth in Downtown Flushing and Corona and steadily becoming more and more polluted," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today, finally, we're doing something about it. Our plan will revitalize the area, creating a new, vibrant neighborhood with thousands of new jobs and a mix of uses, including affordable housing, parks and open space, cultural institutions, retail amenities, office space, a public school and a convention center and hotel. Through the remediation of heavily contaminated land, the use of innovative green building technologies and the development of considerable parks and open space, Willets Point can and will serve as a model for sustainable development."
"I'd like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Doctoroff, EDC and the team of city agencies that has worked together to plan for the future of Willets Point," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "My office has been working closely with the mayor's team for the past five years on this project. And, as chair of the Advisory Committee, comprised of elected officials from the area, I look forward to working with everyone to build the Willets Point of tomorrow."
Today, Willets Point is among the most heavily contaminated areas in New York City. It is saturated with widespread petroleum contamination resulting from decades of spillage and neglect. Environmental hazards have been exacerbated by the area's high water table, which spreads pollution throughout the site, allowing it to seep into the groundwater and contaminate Flushing Bay and Flushing River.
The Master Plan unveiled by Mayor Bloomberg calls for the remediation of the 60-acre, waterfront site and outlines a comprehensive vision for its future. The planned uses include:
"When we look at Willets point, we need to look at it in the context of the surrounding area - including a resurgent and thriving Downtown Flushing and the new Citi Field nearby, and we need to look at it in the context of building a greener, greater New York," said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff. "We need to reclaim and remediate brownfields and we need to foster the development of green buildings and create mixed use neighborhoods. When realized, this master plan will do precisely that, and it will dramatically augment Downtown Flushing's continued growth."
Borough President Marshall will lead a special task force of elected officials, labor representatives and advocacy groups to create a plan designed to promote minority- and women-owned business participation and local hiring as part of the redevelopment of Willets Point. The task force will convene this spring with the goal of releasing a series of recommendations by fall 2007.
As part of the Master Plan, the City is also creating a dedicated Business Relocation and Workforce Assistance Plan for the roughly 250 businesses located in Willets Point today. The businesses, which include about 225 auto-related repair and about 25 light industrial and manufacturing establishments, employ approximately 1,000 workers earning about 40% less than other similar auto-related workers elsewhere in the New York City. The assistance plan, which is being created by NYCEDC and the Department of Small Business Services and is expected to be announced this summer, will include one-on-one targeted relocation support, financial and technical assistance, job training and placement services, legal immigration services, English as a Second Language (ESL) and General Educational Development (GED) test preparation, and other social services.
"With the opportunity to unlock the potential of Willets Point comes a responsibility to support and retain the existing businesses and employees located in the area today," said NYCEDC President Lieber. "In the coming months we will announce a Business Relocation and Workforce Assistance Plan that will include an array of services designed to help local companies and workers."
In 2002, the Bloomberg Administration identified Flushing as an area of tremendous potential for growth. That year, the City formed the Downtown Flushing Task Force comprised of local and state elected officials, community members, advocacy groups, local business leaders and community board representatives. After a yearlong community based planning effort, the task force drafted a three-pronged plan to reconnect Downtown Flushing, revitalize the Flushing area waterfront, and redevelop Willets Point. Based on that work, in 2004 the City created the Willets Point Advisory Committee (WPAC), chaired by Borough President Marshall, to help advise planning for the redevelopment of Willets Point. Through the consultative development process, the City created a series of goals and guidelines used to shape the Master Plan unveiled today. Throughout the process, the City conducted extensive outreach, hosting or attending more than 60 meetings with the public, elected officials, community groups, local business organizations, existing Willets Point businesses, environmental advocates, housing advocates and labor groups.
Today's Master Plan unveiling coincides with the start of the project's public scoping process. A series of public approvals are necessary through the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), including a rezoning to a mixed-use commercial zone, creation of an urban renewal plan, and several street de-mappings. The multi-month ULURP process, expected to begin this fall, incorporates the community board, Borough President, City Planning Commission and City Council and offers several opportunities for public comment on the plan. Pending approval through ULURP, the City expects to select a developer and begin the acquisition process in summer/fall 2008. Environmental remediation would begin in 2010.