Wednesday, October 9, 2013

City Approves $4.4 Billion in Mega Projects for Queens

After decades of debate, the City Council gave final approval for the $3 billion Willets Point Redevelopment, the signature real estate project of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 12 years in office. Willets Point was the largest project in a big day for real estate development in Queens. The City Council also approved a $1 billion plan to build a massive complex of 10 residential towers totaling 2,200 apartments on Hallets Point in Astoria, as well as a $400 million plan to build a 1,000-unit pair of residential towers at an abandoned warehouse in Long Island City, presently a haven for graffiti artists called 5Pointz.

Willets Point 

Plans to build a sprawling $3 billion complex of retail space, a hotel, and as many as 5,850 units of residential apartments on what is now a polluted wasteland in Willets Point, Queens, next to CitiField was approved by the City Council Wednesday afternoon.

The city has insisted its deal with Related and Sterling is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to remake a derelict area of the borough and create much needed housing.

Over the past five years, the city has either spent or earmarked about $400 million on the development. Among other things the city has bought up 23 acres of land in the northern Queens neighborhood and funded key infrastructure improvements it will deliver such as sewage and paved streets to an area that was one of the few remaining pockets in the city with neither. Last year, the city reached a deal with developers, the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, to design, construct and operate the massive development.

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 deal making 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 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. Part of the deal includes a $2.68 million rooftop farm and greenhouse that the developers will put on top of Willets West 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. Council Speaker Christine Quinn also announced her support for Willets on Wednesday.

According to the plan, Related and Sterling could begin building about 2,500 units of apartments. A second wave of 3,300 units of residential housing is slated to be built at Willets Point by 2025. That project will be awarded to the winner of a future competitive bid. The city has said that a vibrant retail development is a key prerequisite to residential development.

Hallets Point

The City also gave the green light to a $1 billion plan to build a massive complex of 10 residential towers totaling 2,200 apartments on Hallets Point in Astoria, Queens.

The project by the Lincoln Equities Group would bring nearly 2,700 residential units to the Astoria waterfront.

[see ElectricWeb|Blogger, May 15, 2013]
[see ElectricWeb|Blogger, Sep 29, 2013]

Another big developer has submitted renderings to the City for an $800 million project, dubbed Astoria Cove. This project would add seven buildings with additional 1,700 apartments on the north side of the peninsula.

5Pointz Towers

The Council also approved a $400 million plan to build a 1,000-unit pair of residential towers at an abandoned warehouse in Long Island City called 5Pointz, a haven for graffiti artists.

That deal came after a number of concessions from the developer of that project, the Wolkoff family.

[see ElectricWeb|Blogger, May 1, 2013]

Among the perks was an increase in the amount of artist studio space in the new development, from 2,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet, an agreement to include 210 units of affordable housing instead of 75 units, and a new 30,000-square-foot public park the developers will build.

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