With mixed-income housing, retail, public open space, and a school, Willets Point will become New York City's next great neighborhood.
In February 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Francisco Moya announced an agreement to jumpstart construction of 1,100 affordable apartments on six acres of Willets Point – an increase of 225 affordable homes over the original development proposal. The new homes will be the first built on the wider Willets Point site which was approved for development by the City Council in 2008.
The new plan is for three, 100 percent affordable buildings including a standalone building with 220 homes for low-income seniors and also apartments for families at lower incomes than originally proposed. The plan also includes public open space and a new 450-seat public elementary school. View the press release here.
Building on this announcement, Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of a Task Force to identify community priorities and produce recommendations for the balance of the Phase 1 area of the Special Willets Point District (the “District”). The Willets Point Task Force (the “Task Force”)–chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Francisco Moya–was a group of Queens stakeholders that represented local and state elected officials, Community Boards 3, 4, & 7, economic development groups, community-based organizations, and local civic associations. Additional information about the Willets Point Task Force can be found here.
The Willets Point Development Plan is a historic redevelopment effort that will transform an area previous generations have sought to change and improve. The plan will clean up the environment and help improve the quality of nearby waterways. It will link this district, in one of the most vibrant parts of Queens, to basic infrastructure and establish a major new mixed-income neighborhood and commercial destination that will create jobs.
The redevelopment of Willets Point will be a major engine for economic growth for New York City, generate local employment and business opportunities, and improve the overall quality of life for local residents.
Redevelopment of Willets Point constitutes a unique opportunity for the City to incorporate sustainability goals from the ground up. Willets Point suffers from widespread petroleum contamination, with additional potential contamination from paint, cleaning solvents, and automotive fluids. Environmental hazards are exacerbated by a high water table that spreads pollution throughout the site, endangering adjacent water bodies. Most of Willets Point lies within the 100-year flood plain, necessitating a significant increase in grade. The district also has limited storm water infrastructure and no sanitary infrastructure. The redevelopment approach will encompass site cleanup, planning and design, infrastructure construction, and building construction.
In 2014, the City completed critical infrastructure work including the construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. These improvements, which constitute a $50 million investment, support the historic redevelopment of Willets Point, which has always lacked this basic infrastructure.
Another critical part of the redevelopment plan for Willets Point has been assisting workers. NYCEDC, in conjunction with the Department of Small Business Services, retained LaGuardia Community College to develop and manage the Worker Assistance Program for impacted employees of Willets Point. This program successfully concluded in 2014, with more than 630 workers taking advantage of free services.
In 2009, the City released a Request for Qualifications that yielded 29 developer responses, demonstrating significant interest in developing the 62 acre Willets Point site. In fall 2011, the City released an RFP for the first phase of development in Willets Point, which resulted in the selection of the joint venture between Related Companies and Sterling Equities, called the Queens Development Group. This plan called for Queens Development Group to acquire an initial 23 acres of land adjacent to Citi Field to begin buildout of Phase 1 which would include a retail and entertainment attraction to the west of Citi Field.
Ultimately, this plan would unlock over 5 million square feet of new development in a unified district, transforming a contaminated area into a new neighborhood. The Phase 1 build-out was to be anchored by a residential community of 2,500 housing units, of which 875 will be affordable. The proposed Phase 1 buildout also included community facilities, a public school, retail, a hotel, parking, and more than six acres of publicly accessible open space. This Phase 1 vision was projected to infuse $3 billion of private investment into the local economy and create 7,100 permanent jobs and 12,000 direct construction jobs with MWBE and local hiring goals of 25 percent.
In June 2017 the New York State Court of Appeals determined that construction of the proposed retail and entertainment attraction to the west of Citi Field could not proceed as contemplated. Through fall 2017, the City worked to negotiate with Queens Development Group to advance a plan that accelerated the affordable housing component of this project, and announced an agreement in February 2018.
View additional information about the Willets Point Development including documents relating to city planning commission resolutions, the Willets Point Phase 1 RFP, Willets Point Design Guidelines, and off-site infrastructure improvements such as NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit.
View additional information regarding the Willets Point environmental review, including VanWyck Ramps NEPA assessment, CEQR review, and the final generic environmental impact statement.
On March 18, 2013, the City Planning Commission certified into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure an application from the Queens Development Group, LLC and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for special permits from the City Planning Commission pursuant to Section 124-60 of the New York City Zoning Resolution, as amended pursuant to a proposed text amendment, to facilitate surface parking and active recreation on four adjacent zoning lots located within the Special Willets Point District. The proposed text amendment and special permits would facilitate one component of a larger multi-phased redevelopment of the entire Willets Point area currently planned for both within the District (east of Citi Field) and outside the District (west and south of Citi Field). A Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development acting as lead agency. A Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development acting as lead agency and a Notice of Completion was issued on August 9, 2013.