Top stories to watch for in northeast Queens in 2023

As we look ahead to 2023, QNS previews what may be in store for northeast Queens throughout the new year.

The George Santos controversy

(Photo by George Santos for New York)

Republican George Santos was elected Congressman of New York’s third congressional district last November. His supposed background working on Wall Street helped him win over many voters. However, a bombshell New York Times investigative article revealed that Santos was not who he claimed to be.

Among the revelations in the article were that Santos lied on his resume, including that he graduated from Baruch College and worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Baruch College has no records of him graduating from the year he claimed to do so and neither Citigroup or Goldman Sachs have record of his employment.

Santos has since confirmed that he lied about many facets of his past, including his education and work history. Many Queens leaders had been calling for his resignation and an ethics investigation to be conducted. Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly has opened an investigation into Santos. It is likely this will be just the first of many federal and local investigations.

Despite the controversy surrounding him, Santos said he does not intend to resign. However, if any of the investigations discover he partook in anything illegal, it will be interesting to see what happens with Santos and the congressional seat.

Mets owner Steve Cohen’s public outreach initiative

Mets owner Steve Cohen will hold public visionary sessions regarding future development around Citi Field. (File photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

While New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has mostly been making headlines for his free agent spending throughout the 2022-23 offseason, the Mets aren’t the only thing he’s shown a willingness to invest in. On Dec. 19, Cohen announced the launch of a new public outreach initiative that could have a greater impact on the area surrounding the ballpark.

This announcement backs up a statement he made after he bought the team in 2020 for $2.4 billion. He said that he viewed owning the organization as a civic responsibility extending beyond Citi Field.

The first in a series of public visioning sessions is scheduled to be held on Jan. 7. The goal of these sessions is to get feedback on how to handle the 50 acres of parking around the stadium as an entertainment complex. Prior to the announcement, team officials for Cohen had been talking with community groups and leaders about the wasted space that the parking lots west of Citi Field were taking up.

“For months, we have been listening to the local community who keeps telling us there is more they want from the area,” Cohen said. “Everyone agrees that the status quo is unacceptable.”

Cohen aspires to turn the area into an entertainment destination, with live music, restaurants, bars and a casino. He and the community are optimistic that transforming the 50-acre area into an entertainment hub could be a huge benefit for the local economy, creating construction jobs and, eventually, jobs within whatever is built there. Additionally, it would help to connect surrounding neighborhoods by creating easy and safe waterfront access, increasing walkability and cycling access and improving transportation access.

Beginning of construction of new stadium for NYCFC

Concept art of the new NYCFC soccer stadium that will be built next to Citi Field. (Rendering courtesy of S9 Architecture)

Speaking of the area around Citi Field, the public outreach initiative isn’t the only way that changes will be made to it. In November, it was announced that the empty lot next to the stadium will be transformed into a new soccer arena, providing NYCFC with a permanent home.

While this project isn’t expected to be completed until 2027, the design and construction should bring plenty of jobs to northeastern Queens. Additionally, for the team and its fans, this presents a great opportunity to further improve its standing within the community with a new state-of-the-art stadium.

“I think it’s the understatement of the year to say that we are thrilled and excited to be embarking on the phase of this journey,” NYCFC COO Jen O’Sullivan said. “The search for a permanent home for this club started 10 years ago. We’ve had a lot of twists and turns, we’ve had a lot of people working very hard behind the scenes and we have an entire fan base that’s been with us every step of the way.”

Founded in May 2013, the club has experienced a lot of success over the last couple of years. The organization won its first MLS Cup championship in 2021. In 2022, the team won the Campeones Cup, defeating Atlas F.C. of the Liga MX 2-0. Throughout this period of time, the team had been playing its home games at Yankee Stadium. However, since the team wasn’t the stadium’s main tenant, it has not acted as a reliable home.