Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Willets Point may become giant parking lot

From Crains:

The justification for razing a collection of small businesses in Willets Point, Queens, as part of an economic development project a decade in the making was that the land needed to be cleaned of its toxic soil and would better serve as a mixed-use site.

Earlier this year, however, the city and a development team that included the owners of the New York Mets drew up plans to use publicly owned Willets Point property for parking lots that would appear to benefit the Wilpon family's baseball team and an unrelated renovation project at LaGuardia Airport. But the proposal would leave the contaminated ground beneath it untouched, official documents show.

The parking plan was never acted upon, although officials left open the possibility of pursuing it. Doing so would raise questions about the city's priorities for the site, and it would mark a shift in what the land was supposed to be used for when it was rezoned in 2008.

In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would go back to the drawing board after the state's Court of Appeals struck down an earlier version of the Willets Point plan that involved building a shopping mall on parkland. The development team—The Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, the real estate arm of the Wilpon family—would build a 1,100-unit affordable-housing complex on 6 acres of city-owned property. A task force of elected officials and community stakeholders would come up with suggestions on what to build on the remaining 17 acres of public land.

"It's time to jump-start Willets Point, and we are doing that by building more than a thousand homes for seniors and families struggling to make ends meet," the mayor said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

But just a month later, the developers notified a state agency overseeing soil remediation at Willets Point that they planned to build parking within the area delegated to the task force, according to documents obtained by Queens filmmaker Robert LoScalzo through a Freedom of Information Law request and provided to Crain's. A roughly 6.5-acre swath of city-owned land would be paved over with three lots housing 665 parking spots and a large open space.

The notification suggested that the lots would be used by Delta Air Lines, which is launching a massive undertaking to replace its terminal at LaGuardia. Finding a place for the airline's contractors to park has been an issue ever since Delta's terminal project was announced.

While Delta said in a public document last year that it had reached an agreement with the Mets to use Citi Field parking to fill the need, paving new lots in Willets Point would serve the same purpose. It would leave parking at the Amazins stadium untouched—a win for the franchise—and would corroborate reports from 2016 that officials were eyeing space in the Iron Triangle to aid the airport's redevelopment.

"It is heartbreaking that hundreds of businesses were ejected from these 23 acres, and yet none of the promised benefits of doing that have come to pass after 10 years," said LoScalzo, who is working on a documentary about Willets Point. "Instead it seems the city has drifted over to other priorities."


JQ LLC said...

Don't it always seem to go, when you don't know what you got til it's gone
They paved land that was occupied by successful small auto shop businesses and now are gonna put up a parking lot.

Shooh, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop...

As for the Wilpons, Jacob de Grom will be the first cy young winner with a losing record. Which is a perfect allegory for this deal, two loser investors still getting coddled with funding and real estate from this city and it's taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Its a no brainer. The only thing that would work is to make this a mixed retail, mixed residential site. I know there are shops at skyview parc mall across the bridge but they need bigger and better retailers like Whole Foods or Wegmans. Perhaps a small sports complex with bowling alley, indoor rock climbing wall, swimming pools. It doesnt all have to be condo's and luxury apartments.

Anonymous said...

This place could be better than New Roc City if only the city and developers would get their act together. Only Trump can make it happen!!

Anonymous said...

Large parts of Whitestone were parking lots cleared for the Worlds fair. Then..

Anonymous said...

A parking lot is a lot better than building more unnecessary apartments. This whole area is overpopulated as it is with not enough infrastructure to handle what is there now. The area needs less people and buildings, not more.

Anonymous said...

They're not even trying to hide it any more. Ruining all those lives, all those businesses, for a fucking parking lot.

This isn't paradise they're paving, but it's people's livelihoods.

Anonymous said...

The only alternative to the city "EATING CROW" for the huge mistake (Abomination in realistic terms) that was made when they rode in on their high horses and pillaged the community is to make Willets Point a Parking Lot.

While this turn of events may not be the "Mud In Your Face" disgrace that the city deserves, its enjoyable to see their evil mission fail.

The next step is for the demand of Mom and Pop business to be able to return (not at a premium cost for land ownership or tax base) and split some of the land as designated commuter parking at an affordable rate (the current rate is highway robbery). There is enough residential housing in the area. Commerce and jobs are what is needed.

Of the People, By the People and For The People ...

ron s said...

How about fix the streets, give the businesses city services like normal people have, and get some of them to return. The underlying issues here were 1) Mets fans can't tolerate anything unsightly like auto body shops when they eat their Shake Shack 2) Small business encouragement is a city priority except when it comes to rich people who want to make millions off of parkland and pushing small businesses out. 3) The realtor parasites never give up-shopping mall, apartments, stores, expanded USTA facilities, lying, cheating, fighting legitimate rules and agreements, ignoring people and groups who have a legitimate interest in the properties.

Anonymous said...

It will be long term parking for Laguardia. The Air Train from Mets stadium station will pick up passengers from the Iron Triangle and bring them to the airport. Whoever holds the lease to the surface lots around the Air Train station will be printing money with no complicated development required.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they can put that new prison here, instead of in a residential area.

M. How said...

Anonymous said... "They're not even trying to hide it anymore. Ruining all those lives, all those businesses, for a fucking parking lot. This isn't paradise they're paving, but it's people's livelihoods." and

Anonymous #2 said..."Maybe they can put that new prison here, instead of in a residential area."

This situation is an out and out crime and the citizens of Queens end up paying for it while the Wilpons and our politicos continue to line their pockets via sweetheart deals with real estate developers.

However, the most egregious situation is the utter disregard for the hard-working community that was displaced and their customers. In addition, the City promised these business owners ready-made places in the Bronx so they could continue to support themselves, their families and their employees. It was a BALD FACED LIE and no one from the City came forward to remedy the situation. Now it was their problem, the peons needed to go away.

For decades knowledgeable people who owned cars patronized this area. Prices for car repair were reasonable and the cost was negotiable. Unlike using the usual auto repair franchises the work was done quickly, accurately and affordably with a guarantee for the work done.

For instance, (1) The hinge on my driver side door broke. The price was $450 to weld, in addition to leaving it overnight. At Willets Point, the weld was done in 30 minutes and cost $50.00. (2) The lock on my glove box would not open. I called a dealer who told me the whole glove box would have to be replaced at a cost of $350 plus an all-day wait. I ordered the lock at an online auto part site for $20, went back to Willets Point and found a mechanic that would replace the lock for $20. (3) My back brakes also needed to be replaced. A brake franchise wanted $350 with a 3-hour wait. Willets Point replaced the brakes for $150 and I was on my way after only 45 minutes.
Result: Total projected cost at repair shops = $1,150. Total cost at Willets Point = $240. Savings = $900. Now, I shiver whenever I need my car repaired.

I am sure there are many stories like mine otherwise, Willets Point would have been out of business long before they were forced out. So not only did car owners lose a reasonable and reliable place to fix their cars, given the weekend crowds the loss of tax revenue to the City has to be a goodly sum. However, the City is not worried because this tax revenue loss will eventually be made up by skyrocketing property and sales taxes.

Anonymous #2 suggestion to build a prison at Willets Point is an excellent one. However, it will never get off the ground. Can you imagine the Wilpons and our upper echelon politicos having to look at a thirty story prison while entering a Mets game? No, that won't do but it's o.k. for the residents of Kew Gardens to gaze at a thirty story prison, lose a municipal parking area, welcome the crowds of people visiting 1,500 prisoners and accept the accompanying litter while enduring ever-increasing property taxes.

For all this, we can thank our infamous mayor and all his untrustworthy cronies whom we can never vote out of office thanks to the stranglehold of Tammany Hall Reincarnated.

The Willets Point displacement situation and the installation of the Kew Gardens prison illustrate that our political system is a two-tier system both in Washington, D.C. and Queens New York. The "deplorables" and "dregs of society" pay the taxes and afford the electeds a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. On the other hand, taxpayers just have to suck it up and acquiesce to whatever they want to do to us. Even if we say NO (think Bike and Bus Lanes) they override us. We really are living on a plantation.