BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Wednesday, February 13th 2008, 4:00 AM
The city's ambitious Willets Point redevelopment plan was panned Tuesday in a report that concludes it is unfit for the official approval process.
"It's badly flawed and has to be overhauled before the [land-use review] process can begin," said Evan Thies, a spokesman for a coalition of local groups that drafted the report with the Pratt Center for Community Development.
As envisioned by Mayor Bloomberg and the city Economic Development Corp., Willets Point is to be transformed from a polluted industrial area into a $3 billion commercial and residential complex with a hotel and convention center.
But the mayor's plan "does little to strengthen or connect to the surrounding neighborhoods," according to the report, which was based on workshops conducted with a variety of community groups and some 300 residents.
"After displacing the current businesses and workers, it would create millions of square feet of high-end residential and commercial development," the report notes. "But it makes no specific commitments to creating good jobs or hiring local residents, and has no details on how much of the housing would be affordable, or to whom."
The city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure requires zoning and land-use proposals to get input from affected community boards and borough boards, followed by binding approvals from the city Planning Commission and the City Council, which has the final say.
The Council kicks off the process by issuing a "certification." But so far, it hasn't certified the Willets Point project.
The report also recommends ways to improve the project, including devoting at least 33% of the residential portion to affordable housing for families earning less than $25,000 a year in the nearby Queens neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Flushing.
Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) said he agrees with the findings of the Pratt report, which was drafted after consulting with groups such as Queens for Affordable Housing, ACORN, Queens Congregations United for Action and the New York Immigration Coalition.
"The reality is that this plan is big on ideas and very short on details," Monserrate said of the EDC's plan. "I would encourage my colleagues not to support it."
But Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the EDC's plan is ready for certification.
"They're getting ready to do that before this month is out," she said. "I haven't heard any objections from the local communities. All they want is to be involved in it."