Friday, June 15, 2012
City's biggest land grab goes to the Wilpons
From the Daily News:
ONLY in Michael Bloomberg’s New York are we asked to believe that giving away huge swaths of city-owned land to millionaires is a wonderful deal.
The mayor announced Wednesday that the city had selected the Wilpons, of the Mets and Sterling Equities, and Steve Ross of The Related Companies, to develop 23 acres of land in the Willets Point redevelopment area in Queens.
The Wilpon-Ross partnership, Queens Development Group, will be handed this land completely free of charge, so it can build its own new retail, entertainment and hotel complex adjacent to the Mets’ Citi Field.
Yes, free land, even though the city is on track to spend nearly $500 million buying that very land from scores of industries and auto repair firms that operated there for decades, putting in new sewer lines, and erecting new Long Island Expressway ramps.
Free land, even though Queens Development has committed to developing only one-third of the entire 60-acre Willet Points project City Council approved back in 2008.
Queens Development won’t even have to begin construction on a single unit of residential housing — part of the original lure of the project — until 2025.
“How do you give away 23 acres of land for nothing?” Jerry Antonacci wants to know. He has run Crown Container, a waste hauling and recycling plant in Willets Point for nearly 40 years and has been battling the city’s efforts to move him out. “This is like the biggest heist ever,” Antonacci said, “We all knew the Wilpons wanted our land for themselves all along, and now they got it.”
But when City Hall originally got Council’s approval for Willets Point, there was no mention of giveaways or of the Wilpons as a possible developer.
Just the opposite.
Back then, Bloomberg’s aides assured the Council that any taxpayer money spent on Willets Point would be recouped when the city sold the land to a developer that would be chosen later.