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New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the eight finalists for the redevelopment of the 75-acre Willets Point district in northern Queens. The finalists were selected by EDC based on their responses to a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued by EDC in November 2004. RFEI responses focused on creating synergy between a mix of exciting uses, such as a hotel and exhibition center, quality retail and entertainment uses, and space for community organizations and cultural institutions.
The finalists are:
“Willets Point and the surrounding neighborhood presents challenging, but potentially highly rewarding, development opportunities. It is an important priority of the Bloomberg Administration and its five-borough economic development strategy,” said EDC President Andrew M. Alper. “With the new Mets Stadium project moving forward, the area presents even greater development potential. The eight proposals selected all demonstrate a clear understanding of the Mayor’s standards for superior, sustainable urban development and an affinity for the needs and concerns of the community.”
In evaluating the RFEI responses, EDC met a number of times with the Willets Point Advisory Committee, a group that is headed by the Queens Borough President and includes area local and state elected officials as well as community board representatives. With the Advisory Committee’s input, EDC issued a targeted Request for Proposals (RFP) to eight of the 13 RFEI respondents. The goal of the RFP is to select a development partner or partners to implement a viable, strategic redevelopment plan to be outlined in the upcoming environmental and public review processes.
Over the past year, EDC has conducted environmental, engineering and soil studies, along with infrastructure analysis and site surveys of the area. In the next few months, EDC will select a consultant to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and will begin the public review process for the redevelopment effort.
The targeted RFP contains specific guidelines for proposals. Proposals must create an experience unique to the New York metropolitan area; feature a vibrant mix of pedestrian friendly land uses and urban design and superior architecture; attract visitors from throughout the region; include land uses that result in a mixed-use development that connects to adjacent communities and area assets; and be sensitive to the existing natural environment. Proposals must also generate significant job creation and tax revenues.
The RFP is the next step in the implementation of the Downtown Flushing Development Framework that resulted from a year-long collaboration among local business leaders, community groups, City and State agencies and local elected officials. EDC has also met with the Willets Point Business Association and numerous Willets Point businesses. These outreach efforts will continue as the redevelopment process moves forward. In addition, a comprehensive Business Assistance and Workforce Development Program is being finalized to assist businesses and workers that may be affected by the redevelopment.
Responses to the RFP may include suggestions for redevelopment of the entire 75-acre site, or propose redevelopment of a portion of the site. Proposals must include a clear rationale for the particular size and location of the development parcel. The Willets Point Peninsula is zoned for heavy industrial uses, but proposals that require rezoning will be considered. Responses are due on May 5, 2006.