City lawmakers reached a last-minute agreement with City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D, Queens) that paves the way for a thumbs up vote by the council Wednesday afternoon of the $1 billion Halletts Point residential project on the Astoria waterfront. Under the deal the city will agree to study the feasibility of adding ferry service to the site, a key concern of Mr. Vallone, whose district includes Hallets Point.
Of course, they voted yes. Of course, there won't ever be a ferry to this location, because the only guaranteed thing is a "study".
The approval of the project comes after Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, whose district includes Willets Point, announced she had reached a last-minute deal for concessions she had been seeking in exchange for her support. When it comes to real estate dealmaking and other decisions like zoning changes, the City Council almost always defers to the wishes of the councilmember whose district encompasses the project.
The agreement negotiated by Ms. Ferreras, the developers and the administration calls for 872 new affordable housing units, or 35% of the total residential units in the first phase of the project; $15.5 million from the developers to fund a new nonprofit to improve and maintain Flushing Meadows Corona Park; 25% of the project contracts to go to minority- and women-owned businesses and $930,000 to help those businesses compete for the work; $15.5 million from the city to help Willets Point businesses relocate to make way for the development; a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, and space for community groups, a library, a day care facility and a public plaza in front of the mall.
The Bloomberg administration will also put $72 million in next year's city budget for design and construction of two highway ramps essential to the residential portion of the project. That money had been relegated to distant fiscal years.
There actually is still no guarantee that any housing will be built, because it's written into the contract that they don't have to build it. Flushing Meadows doesn't need another conservancy, the Willets Point tenant businesses were never offered relocation (they're quite pissed about that), and promising community facilities for a community that will never be built is kind of an easy thing to do. And taxpayers are stuck paying for ramps for the Wilpons' folly. Also, I'm not sure how Bloomberg can put $72 in next year's budget when he will be sipping cocktails in Bermuda.
Once again, the media is not doing their job and questioning the details, just regurgitating EDC press releases.
From the Queens Courier:
“It was important for me to honor the history of the building over the last 20 years and to recognize what it had become to the graffiti and aerosol art world,” said Van Bramer.
However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, 5Pointz artists are furious a second hearing, previously promised by Van Bramer, never happened and although 40 speakers stood up to speak at the October 2 public hearing, no one really listened.
“It was a beautiful horse and pony show,” said Flageul. “About half way through the testimonies, almost every council person had left the room. Every single person that took the day off to come and speak, wasted their time because there has been no follow up.”
Flageul also said to date no 5Pointz artists have been contacted or offered to work within the art studios or be featured on the art panels. There have also been no commitments in writing stating everything promised would actually take place once the towers come up.
The artists have filed for a TRO. Good luck, kids!