Say no to Willets shopping mall

There are many reasons for the City Council to reject the application of Sterling Equities and Related Cos., which seeks to amend the 2008 approved Willets Point plan.

The amendment that seeks to build a parking lot at Willets Point is a ploy to sneak through the back door a transfer of the Citi Field parking lots to allow construction on the vacated lots a 1.4-million-square-foot shopping mall. This is without a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and replacing parkland, since Citi Field is on land that is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Affordable housing will not be built until 2015, if ever.

At the top of the list of deceptions that have accompanied the application is the claim for requiring a prioritized Citi Field shopping mall as a financial engine to generate enough funds with which to construct the original Willets Point plan, suggesting that without it the original plan cannot be accomplished.

Ignoring its speculation, it is untrue and a ploy to have the mall, which is what the application is all about. Related Cos. are the developers of the $20 billion development underway over the Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The claim that these multibillion-dollar companies — which are being given the Willets Point land the city has acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars and more in the future for $1 and a subsidy of $99 million — do not have the financial wherewithal to build Willets Point without a huge shopping mall is an in insult unworthy of belief and a reason to reject the application.

The original Willets Point plan approved by the Council in 2008 is one thing. A deceptive huge shopping mall is something different and unacceptable. It remains to be seen if the word from the Council is that its constituents are not just billionaire real estate moguls but the little people, the poor, the middle class and small businesses, which are the backbone of an urban society and reject the application.

Benjamin Haber