‘We must be bold’: City Council candidate wants community to weigh in on Willets Point site

Willets neighborhood
File photo

As a Flushing development project continues to stall, a City Council candidate is calling for a new vision.

Queens Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who is running for the 21st Council District seat being vacated by outgoing Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, has announced “a community-minded high bar” vision for the Willets Point development site.

The politician’s proposal comes in the wake of the New York State Court of Appeals ruling that the Queens Development Group’s (QDG) plan will not be able to move forward without approval from state legislature due to its situation on parkland. At a post-decision Community Board 7 (CB 7) meeting, a representative for QDG said the group was “huddling up internally” to determine the next course of action.

Most recently, New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President James Patchett told CB 7 the city is “not shying away from the plan” to develop the site despite the board’s allegations the agency was not being cooperative.

“Our city cannot wait longer,” Moya said in a prepared statement. “Queens deserves a world-class project that looks toward the future and rejects the failures of the past. Any future negotiations for this blighted community must meet stringent thresholds that benefit working families and seniors here in East Elmhurst and Corona.”

Under Moya’s vision, 100 percent of constructed housing at the site would be affordable, with 33 percent reserved for those who have an income of $25,000 or less. Additionally, a retail “World’s Borough Market” would be built, similarly modeled to the Essex Street Market in the Lower East Side, with all local vendors and businesses. Moya also proposes “extensive” environmental remediation at the site and a dedicated funding stream to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park improvements as part of his plan.

The assemblyman has pledged to work with the state legislature to secure the required parkland alienation provisions should his proposal move forward, according to the press release. He did not include details as to how his project would be funded.

Moya also proposes the “immediate creation” of a community advisory council, giving the community a venue to voice their thoughts and concerns with the project.

“We must be bold,” Moya continued. “I want to see more jobs in our neighborhoods, a requirement to help minority- and women-owned businesses from start to execution, a major economic engine, and the largest affordable housing complex on the development books in our city.”

The lawmaker also takes a shot at fellow candidate Hiram Monserrate, whose “inaction” as the former city representative contributed to the project’s “stagnation,” he alleges.

Monserrate told QNS the deal he made in 2008 regarding the Willets Point project was renegotiated by the current Councilmember, Ferreras-Copeland, and stated Moya was “ripping a page from the Trump playbook in creating alternative facts.”

“But now that Moya is running for a new seat, he wants our community to believe he is supportive of bringing affordable housing to a community he has ignored for almost a decade,” Monserrate said. “He is the candidate of the greedy billionaire developers and a puppet of political insiders that seek to gentrify our neighborhood and price us out all out.”

“We are committed to providing affordable housing and amenities that meet the needs of this community,” an EDC spokesperson said. “We look forward to continuing this discussion to determine the next steps for this important project.”