After years of planning, protests and public hearings, ground was broken at Willets Point — marking the first physical step in the area’s redevelopment.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined at the Thursday, December 1 ground breaking by New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Karen Koslowitz, Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
“The development of Willets Point and the benefits that it will provide for the entire city cannot become realities without a multimillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements that have been needed for many years,” said Marshall. “Expanding the city’s sewer network and increasing storm water drainage in the area will address longstanding issues and put new development on a firm foundation for the future.”
The infrastructure work is estimated to cost $50 million and will include construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. This phase should be completed in 2013. The construction will mostly occur between October and March, so as not to interfere during the baseball season with Citi Field which sits next door to Willets Point.
Bloomberg called Willets Point “New York City’s next great neighborhood.”
A plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point was announced by Bloomberg in 2007. Since that time, the city has been able to acquire nearly 90 percent of the land. Nine private property owners remain in the projects Phase 1 area, according to the city.
The plan for Phase 1 includes up to 680,000 square feet of retail, up to 400 units of housing — 35 percent of which will be affordable — a hotel, two acres of open space and parking.