Mayor presents vision for Willets Point transformation with 100% affordable housing, privately financed soccer stadium

Mayor Eric Adams presents the city’s plan for the transformation of Willets Point at the Queens Museum on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

A proposal was unveiled Wednesday at the Queens Museum, where Mayor Eric Adams presented the city’s plan for the long-stalled transformation of Willets Point that will be anchored by 2,500 affordable homes, the city’s largest 100% affordable new housing project since the 1970s. The development will include a 25,000-seat privately financed soccer stadium, the new home of the New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and a 250-room hotel, all constructed by 100% union labor where the Iron Triangle once stood across the street from Citi Field.

Union members celebrate the announcement of a professional soccer stadium and development at Willets Point. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

“This was a blighted underutilized and ignored piece of real estate in our city with little infrastructure that was prone to flooding,” Adams said. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a brand-new neighborhood, a Willets Point that offers a real opportunity for working people and all New Yorkers. Our plan will deliver 2,500 affordable homes — New York City’s largest fully affordable housing project in decades. And with a fully privately financed soccer stadium, a hotel and local retail, we will create not only homes but also quality jobs, $6 billion in economic activity and a true pathway to the middle class. This is what it means to build a ‘City of Yes.’”

The proposal was first presented in 2018 by the Willets Point Task Force, a group of Queens stakeholders represented by state and local elected officials; Community Boards 3, 4 and 7; economic development groups; community-based organizations; and local civic associations.

Councilman Francisco Moya alluded to F. Scott Fitzgerald calling the area the Valley of Ashes in “The Great Gatsby.”

“For almost 100 years Willets Point has been the Valley of Ashes, that left this corner of Queens, this corner of my neighborhood to languish until today,” Moya said. “This is an investment that will support neighborhood kids’ futures, fuel our local economy, create a pipeline for local hires and support our brothers and sisters in labor who have been the backbone of building this city. What started as a dream — when I was just a little boy playing soccer in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with my family who came here from Ecuador — will now be a reality for kids from Corona, who like me were born with a love of soccer in their veins. With this new neighborhood and stadium, we are building opportunities for the kids in my district and all over New York City to not just root for their local team but also to one day be able to don the jersey of their hometown club.”

Moya said his partnership with the mayor was a shared vision.

“We are about to build a brand new neighborhood in the city of New York,” Moya said. “Not bad for two kids from Corona, Queens, and Brownsville, Brooklyn.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards paid homage to the late Claire Schulman, who had a vision for Willets Point and pushed for it until her dying day.

“She’s not here with us, but I know she’s looking down on us with such pride,” Richards said. “This was her legacy as much as anyone else’s.”

He then drilled down on the housing crisis in Queens without mentioning the $2 billion Innovation QNS project in Astoria, which is slated to come before the City Council for a vote before Thanksgiving.

“We’re done talking about the affordable housing crisis here in Queens County,” Richards said. “We’re going to build our way out of this crisis. So from Astoria to Far Rockaway to here in Willets Point, we are building and if you’re not building, get out of the way.”

He said the “seismic impact” of Willets Point development would send shockwaves around the region.

“Neighboring communities like Corona and Flushing — which have suffered from decades of disinvestment — must benefit the most from this project and I look forward to working with our partners to support tireless local hiring and community benefits campaigns in the years ahead,” Richards said. “Willets Point’s restoration leaves no doubt that Queens is, without question, the future of New York City.”

The significant infrastructure investment for this project will include additional environmental cleanup — supplementing the ongoing remediation work — as well as installation of new storm and sanitary sewers, reconstruction of streets and improvements to the existing streetscape.

“As a strong advocate and longtime supporter of the redevelopment of Willets Point, and an original member of the Willets Point Task Force, we are thrilled with today’s once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity,” said Thomas J. Grech, president and CEO of Queens Chamber of Commerce. “This triple play of affordable housing, a state-of-the-art soccer stadium and far-reaching economic development makes this development a winner.”