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1 in 5 Willets Pt. apts. to be affordable: City

The city presented its plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point to Community Board 7 Monday night and revealed several key details as it lobbied for the board's approval ahead of its June 23 vote.

Officials from the city Economic Development Corporation presented several details of the plan previously unreleased in a public forum, including the amount of affordable housing expected to be included in the plan, a key sticking point for critics of the city proposal.

Monday's session at the Union Plaza Care Center in Flushing marked the first public meeting of the public approval process, through which the city hopes to gain approval for its $3 billion proposed redevelopment of the 62-acre swath of land known as the Iron Triangle by November.

EDC Vice President Tom McKnight said the city expects that 20 percent of the project's housing or about 1,100 units will be set aside for residents with low-to-moderate income. The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development currently considers a family of four with a total income of about $76,000 a moderate-income family.

McKnight said that under HPD regulations 50 percent of the affordable housing available would be earmarked for residents within CB 7's district.

The EDC has said, however, that the exact amount of affordable housing is subject to change as the project progresses and costs associated with it fluctuate.

"The basic issue is that housing is expensive," McKnight said Monday. "It's really a balancing game. We want to make sure we have a feasible project in the end."

The new details of the plan are part of the city's Environmental Impact Statement, released last month, which provides a 1,050 page analysis of the project and its projected impact on the surrounding community.

The EDC also presented plans for new ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway and a slight expansion of the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge to accommodate the additional traffic burden created by the project.

The city EDC, which is administering the project, is pushing the board to approve a rezoning for the entire site, which would pave the way for a developer to turn the hardscrabble property into a sprawling mixed-use development expected to feature up to 5,500 housing units, a 400,000-square-foot convention center and 1.7 million square feet of retail space.

CB 7 will next meet on the Willets Point plan May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Union Plaza Care Center. It has also tentatively scheduled June 23 as the date the board will issue its final recommendation.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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