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May 17, 2012

A Change of Plans in Queens

It seems like Queens is planing to change the Willets Point development due to the amount of infrastructure the site needs and other work.

The city had sought bids for the project, initially conceived in 2007 as another in a line of Bloomberg-backed housing developments on which construction would begin before the mayor left office. But people familiar with the matter said the housing and retail project has become unfeasible as once envisioned, as developers have been unwilling to fully commit given the site's challenges.
The site—an industrial area full of car-repair shops that officials have sought to develop for decades—would cost tens of millions of dollars to clean up, and developers were concerned about being able to quickly lure residents and retailers to the unproven area.
Now, Related and Sterling Equities—controlled by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz—will take a shot with a revamped plan that delays the housing aspect and introduces a larger retail component next to a world-famous professional sports complex. The USTA National Tennis is also nearby.
The first step for the developers would be to take on a costly 20-acre environmental cleanup and build the new parking lots for the stadium, the people said. They would also be required to build a hotel and a small amount of retail just to the east of Citi Field.
Then they would be able to build more than 800,000 square feet of retail on the parking lots to the west of the stadium. Only then would construction begin of the new neighborhood first envisioned by the Bloomberg administration, with the construction of the 400 apartments and 680,000 square feet of retail. That aspect of the project could grow, the people said.
But the deal injects new uncertainty into the development of the area, for which the city has cleared the use of eminent domain to remove holdout landowners. The agreement calls for the developers to make a $35 million payment to the city if they don't begin construction of the final housing piece by 2025—a relatively large penalty for a development deal, the people said. The developers would also be in danger of being removed from the project if they didn't come through by then, the people said.

It seems like the future of the Queens site is still uncertain and this new turn could effect the possibility of the Islanders making it there future home.  The plan of building a mall in what would be the most likey location for either a soccer stadium or hockey arena doesn't help matters either.  Another issues this creates is that the opposition to this developments have new ground for lawsuits due to the changes.

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