Avella calls on state to reject tax incentives for Willets Point developers

By Alex Robinson

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has called on the state Department of Conservation to reject an application by the developers of Willets Point for millions of dollars in tax credits.

Avella slammed the Queens Development Group, a joint venture by Related Co., and Sterling Equities, for applying for credits from DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program in addition to $40 million they received from the city for clean-up costs associated with their $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point.

“The QDG is attempting to take advantage of the BCP tax credit program by trying to apply for millions in tax credits for costs that will already be paid from the taxpayer’s pocket. It’s absolutely disgraceful,” Avella said. “The DEC’s response is alarming, as it completely disregards the fact that the QDG is already required to clean up the site and will already be receiving taxpayer funds to do so.”

Avella said he contacted the DEC after he learned the developers had been granted the city funds despite having already applied for Brownfield credits.

In a recent letter the DEC said, “The public interest is served by allowing these properties to participate in the BCP.”

The DEC did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the developers said that any tax credits they received from the DEC’s Brownfield program would not necessarily overlap as not all eligible clean-up areas were being reimbursed by the city.

“The Brownfields tax credit program has helped transform numerous blighted properties and Willets Point has suffered from decades of contamination that have turned it into an urban wasteland,” he said in a statement. “QDG has taken on the responsibility and risk of the cleanup in an effort to transform this area into a new neighborhood and we will continue to move the project forward for the benefit of the community and the region.”

The mammoth redevelopment plan will transform Willets Point, which has been occupied by hundreds of auto-shops for years, into a new neighborhood with a megamall and residential space.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobi‌nson@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.