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New plans for Willets Pt. shift as city remains silent: Report

The city has had to rethink its plans to redevelop Willets Point, but in the meantime business and property owners want the streets repaired.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The city is staying mum on its deal with developers to put retail space and hotels around Citi Field after the mayor withdrew his bid to use eminent domain to acquire property in Willets Point earlier this month, but members of the real estate community are expecting an official announcement soon.

“I thought the whole world would know by now,” said one developer after the city dropped hints it would be announcing the fate of a re-imagined mega-project that once sought to completely transform the Iron Triangle.

Sterling Equities, owned by New York Mets heads Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and Related Cos., owned by Manhattan developer Stephen Ross, were selected by the city to build the revamped project, according to sources in the real estate world who did not want to speak publicly before the official announcement.

The plan now includes a 1.4 million-square-foot mall and parking lot to the east of Citi Field, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which the city hopes will replace the portion of Willets Point immediately across from the stadium.

Updated plans also include more retail space on the site of a current parking lot to the west of the stadium, which can only be developed after the hotel and parking lot are complete, the Journal reported.

The plans will probably require a new proposal, public hearings and eventually City Council approval, which means it could be years before a shovel is in the ground.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that despite dropping the bid, the plan to transform the Iron Triangle is going forward, although she did not get into specifics.

Meanwhile, business and property owners in the neighborhood have been calling on the city to update the infrastructure in the 62-acre collection of auto body shops and industrial facilities.

Specifically, property owners have asked the city Department of Transportation to repair the roads, which are full of potholes and not traversable at speeds of more than a few miles per hour.

The DOT has said Willets Point is the site of ongoing pothole repairs, but that large-scale paving cannot be done due to ongoing infrastructure improvements in the area.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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