Today’s news:

City makes first Willets Pt. deals in five months

The city has reached agreements to acquire two new properties at Willets Point, marking the first such deals to take place since the City Council approved a redevelopment plan for the community last year, the city Economic Development Corp. announced Tuesday.

EDC President Seth Pinsky said acquisition agreements were made for a pair of properties in the southwestern portion of the 62−acre site totaling 34,403 square feet, bringing the amount of land — including the streets — now controlled by the city to about 40 acres.

“We are pleased to be making good on our promise to acquire as much land in Willets Point as possible by negotiated acquisition. These two agreements are further proof of the city’s commitment to work with property owners and businesses to reach fair terms of acquisition,” Pinsky said.

The agreements, the ninth and tenth the city has made, put an end to a more than five−month−long period where no deals had been hammered out between the city and land owners at the site. The deals were made with 126 Willets Point Boulevard LLC, which owns two parcels of land — one on Roosevelt Avenue and another on Willets Point Boulevard — and German Diaz Auto Repair, which owns 4,000 square feet on 37th Avenue.

Pinsky told the TimesLedger Newspapers last week that the struggling economy had forced the city’s EDC to re−evaluate its plans for the site, in turn putting negotiations on hold from November to late March.

He said the EDC has adopted a new approach to development and refocused property acquisition negotiations on the southwestern portion of the 62−acre business community, which it hopes to develop first.

“It’s not a phased approach, but it’s a roll−out approach. What we want to see happen is we’ll have a developer start with one portion of the site, likely the southwestern portion, and then as that’s finished we’ll be working on starting the next segment,” he said. “This way we can keep our original vision and time frame intact. But we’re doing this because it’d be almost impossible to get financing for a 62−acre project right now. The endgame is exactly the same, though.”

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The city hopes that by approaching the project in piecemeal fashion a developer will be able to build out the entire planned community, which is expected to include 5,500 residential units and more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space within the next 10 years.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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