$12.3 million purchase of additional land for Willets Point redevelopment plan completed

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

The developers who plan to build a soccer stadium, affordable housing, retail space, open space, an elementary school and a hotel in Willets Point have purchased additional land where the ambitious project is slated to go.

NYCFC, Sterling Equities and Related purchased two parcels in Willets Point for $12.3 million on 34th Avenue that will be used for affordable housing. Located at 126-17 and 126-11 34th Ave., the space makes up 19,800 square feet.

This land will be used as part of the Willets Point redevelopment project, which will include the first ever soccer stadium in Queens. In addition to the 25,000-seat stadium for NYCFC, the project will also include 2,500 affordable housing apartment units, retail space, 40,000 square feet of public open spaces, a 650-seat public elementary school and a 250-room hotel.

The development will be going up in an area known as the “Iron Triangle,” which has been polluted by industrial and auto-related uses for generations. It was also known as the “Valley of Ashes” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

Based upon current proposals from developers in a zoning application, Related, Sterling Equities and NYCFC hope to get approval for the land to be upzoned in order to allow for a higher-density development.

The announcement of the purchase came just a day after Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced the approval of the second phase of the redevelopment plan. The city broke ground on Phase I in December.

The property was sold by Eric Benaim, principal of the real estate firm Benaim X Partners. Benaim’s family had owned the properties since 1977. According to Benaim, he was approached by Related to acquire the property shortly after Mayor Eric Adams announced plans for a soccer stadium in Willets Point. After nearly two years of dialogue, Benaim and Related were able to reach an agreement.

“It feels a little weird [selling this property], because I’m going to be 46 in two weeks and basically my entire life, my family has owned this property,” Benaim said. “But I’m excited to see the next evolution of Willets Point. I think this project will be a huge positive for Queens as a whole.”

The space had previously been occupied by tenants who operated junkyards there.