Despite the stagnant real estate market in New York City, the Bloomberg administration has decided to go ahead with plans for one of its landmark redevelopment projects, the transformation of Willets Point from a down-and-out mechanics row to a gleaming new community complete with a mid-size convention center. At the same time, because of the stagnant real estate market, the city is taking a different approach with its plans, having released on Monday a request for qualifications for the project that focuses on redeveloping an 18-acre swath of the 62-acre area that was
The entire development is one of a handful being put forward by the city as pilot for the U.S. Green Building’s , with local business contending the only blight in the area was caused by longstanding neglect from the city, the Economic Development Corporation began negotiating with landlords in the area in order to avoid eminent domain at the site.
The agency has paraded out announcements every few months or so, and ownership in Area A now stands at 70 percent. “We are in active discussions with several additional land owners within the first development stage and would like to acquire all the privately-held property by negotiated acquisition,” Janel Patterson, and EDC spokesperson, said in an email. She noted that the city also controls roughly 60 percent within the entire 62-acre district. Representatives for two local business groups did not return requests for comment.
One thing is clear, however. Despite the changing economy, the city has not drastically reconsidered its plans. While the RFQ notes that a 4-acre buffer zone would be created between Area A and the remaining businesses, Patterson said there was little chance those businesses might be allowed to stay for good. “Industrial users in the eastern portion will eventually have to be moved,” she said.