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BP approves Willets plan

The city’s plan to develop Willets Point will clear its second hurdle as Queens Borough President Helen Marshall approved the city’s plan with a number of her own suggestions.
Marshall’s staff was refining her recommendations for the plan late on Wednesday afternoon July 30, and they completed the final version of her report later that night. Check qns.com on Thursday for her final submission.
Marshall’s approbation is the second phase in the city’s Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) after Community Board 7 approved the plan with a number of provisos at the end of June. This input is only advisory in nature.
Marshall will now send her suggestions to the City Planning Commission (CPC), and it will then be its turn to hold public hearings and act on the project within 60 days. After the CPC, the City Council will have 50 days to discuss the plan before it comes to a vote in November.
Last year, the city unveiled its master plan for the approximately 60-acre Willets Point site that would include 1 million square feet of retail shops and restaurants, 500,000 square feet of office space, 5,500 units of housing, a school and convention center in an area often described as blighted.
Currently, the city is in negotiations with the 74 land and business owners in the area in order to purchase their property and find possible relocation sites for the businesses. To date, the city has announced agreements with four businesses, and the other property owners have claimed the city is not negotiating in good faith with them.
In addition, a number of City Councilmembers and business owners continue to blast the city for holding the spectre of eminent domain over the businesses.
For many in Queens, Marshall’s approval did not come as a surprise as she has frequently trumpeted the benefits of the project during appearances throughout the borough during the past two years.
However, City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, who represents the Willets Point area and has been a critic of the city’s current plans for the site, jumped the gun by releasing a statement on Friday, July 25 criticizing Marshall’s recommendation - five full days before her recommendations were finalized.
“This process has successfully disenfranchised the Queens community from a project that will determine their future for decades to come,” read part of Monserrate’s statement on Friday, July 25. “Unfortunately, the Queens Borough President chose to support this vague and noncommittal plan rather than question it.”

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