Willets West mega-mall appeal to be heard by court

By Madina Toure

After an appellate court ruled in July that the Willets West mega-mall proposal could not proceed without state legislative approval, the Court of Appeals has announced that it will hear an appeal by the developer.

In February 2014, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), along with the City Club of New York, Queens Civic Congress, Willets Point United and nearby residents and business owners, filed a lawsuit challenging the transfer of 47 acres of Queens parkland worth roughly $1 billion to build the mega-mall adjacent to Citi Field.

In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the First Judicial Department granted injunctive relief, declaring that the development must be halted because it would be built on parkland and thus need the backing of the state Legislature.

The Queens Development Group, the developer, said it was confident that the court would allow the project to continue.

“We are extremely gratified by the New York State Court of Appeals’ decision to hear our appeal, which brings us one step closer to completing this unprecedented, private $3 billion investment in Queens and reversing 100 years of pollution while creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” the company said in a statement. “We are confident that when we make our case, the court will approve the bold vision that has already won support from the City Council, the local community board and many other stakeholders.”

The Willets West mall is part of the Queens Development Group’s $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point into a new neighborhood with commercial, retail and residential space.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.