Willets Point Approved (UPDATE)
September 24th, 2008
This just in from the City Planning Commission: the redevelopment of Willets Point — land primarily comprised of dirt roads and auto body shops, adjacent to Shea Stadium — has been approved by the commission by a vote of 11 to 1, according to Rachaele Raynoff of city planning.
The proposal has already met serious community opposition and criticism in the City Council. (For more on the plan and the opposition, A Sustainability Test at Willets Point and Climate Change Could Threaten a Green Willets Point).
The application was approved with modifications, which we will be bringing to you in a bit.
Update: The modifications approved by the commission this morning focus primarily on incorporating green building standards within the mixed-use development. Incentives were given for car sharing programs (car sharing equals greater number of parking spaces in a development) and encouraging the incorporation of green roofs.
Other changes address a green median for the primary retail street to act as a stormwater management element, solar orientation of buildings and including a varied design for the development’s taller buildings, according to city planning.
On the whole, the development would take over 61 acres, now full of auto body shops and service-related businesses, and turn it into a sprawling mixed use development with a hotel, convention center, 5,500 units of housing and more than 2 million square feet of office space. The development, largely because of the use of eminent domain, has been widely criticized and the area’s councilmember, Hiram Monserrate, opposes it.
The council has the final say on land use.
At a press conference this afternoon, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said they are ready to take on the application. The council will have 50 days to hold public hearings and either approve or deny the proposal.
“It’s obviously a very big project. A project which there is a lot of potential, a project which there is also a lot of possibility and also a lot of concern,” said Quinn. “We are going to be very thoughtful and deliberate and give this project our full attention.”
In a blog post yesterday, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum , who will not be voting on the plan, voiced opposition. She expressed the following concerns:
“The Request for Proposals (RFP) sets out the framework for the redevelopment, but we don’t know who is going to be the ‘master developer’ for the site, to hold accountable for what the actual plan will look like at completion.
Second, the needs of local businesses in Willets Point haven’t been adequately addressed. These businesses have been in the area for a long time. Many have dealt with horrible conditions, including no sewer system and a lack of any City improvements or maintenance for years.
Third, given our current economic crisis, we need to know what kinds of public subsidies will be provided for this plan, and where the money will come from.”
Also this morning, the City Planning Commission approved the Hunter’s Point South development – also a mixed-use development slated for 11 acres of Long Island City waterfront. That plan is far less controversial.
Both projects have been spearheaded by the city’s Economic Development Corporation.By Courtney Gross on September 24, 2008, 12:54 pm
In category: Community Development, Land Use | 6 Comments »