Saturday, August 16, 2014

Borough Board voted to transfer property that hasn't yet sold

From the Times Ledger:

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.


Anonymous said...

The main complaint of Willets Point United about the vote of the Queens Borough Board, it that it approved the sale to the wrong entity. The Mayor needs the Borough Board's approval to sell City-owned Willets Point property to the NYC Land Development Corporation (a local development corporation -- the ONLY type of corporation to which the Mayor may sell City-owned property without bidding, pursuant to City Charter § 384(b)(4)). No Mayor has ever had that approval, because the Borough Board instead voted last year to approve the sale to Queens Development Group -- which is NOT a local development corporation. Therefore, for Mayor de Blasio to authorize any sale of Willets Point property now, he must first obtain the proper Borough Board approval which he does not now have.

The bigger issue is that now Mayor de Blasio must first determine a price for the property that is "in the public interest," according to the same City Charter section. Former Mayor Bloomberg set that price at $1. Will de Blasio? Will the new Borough Board under Melinda Katz agree? Why should they, when the cost to acquire the property has been $250+ million, and the City administration under Bloomberg had committed to RECOUP the cost of the property in the sale to the developer?

Anonymous said...

It would make a nice green space.......

Anonymous said...


The role of the Borough Board in the ULURP process (required when the City acquires (buys) or disposes of (sells) property) is advisory. The up or down approval comes from the City Planning Commission, the City Council, and the Mayor.