Opponents of the Willets Point redevelopment have claimed the city cannot legally transfer all of the land for the project to developers without additional approvals from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Queens Borough Board.
In November 2013, the Queens Borough Board consented to the sale of 23 acres the city had slated for the first phase of the project to developers Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Sterling Equities and Related Cos., for $1.
The city has since cleared out many of the businesses in Phase 1 and has started readying the site to be transferred to the developers. Willets Point United, a group representing business and land owners in the area, has contended the property cannot yet be conveyed to the developers because the city did not own all the necessary parcels at the time the sale was approved.
“Only Mayor Bill de Blasio is empowered to authorize the sale of Willets Point property that was not city-owned during the Bloomberg administration,” the group wrote in recent letters to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who forwarded their concerns to the mayor, the city Economic Development Corp. and other involved agencies last Friday.
The group cited a subsection of the city charter, which authorizes the mayor to only sell property “of the city.”
“How could the borough board vote on something that wasn’t even sold yet? What if the people didn’t sell?” said Gerald Antonacci, a representative of Willets Point United. “How could they possibly give away that person’s property until after it was bought?”
The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.