Monday, December 7, 2009




(December 7, 2009) Willets Point United, Inc. – a group of more than 20 property owners in Queens, NY, fighting to keep their land despite the city’s desire to condemn it and turn it over to a yet-to-be-named private developer – believes the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) approach to improving Willets Point is inappropriate, and we will oppose it in every way. Today we have notified the EDC via letter of the very disturbing track records of certain developer firms likely to respond to the EDC’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) by today’s deadline and asks that these firms be disqualified from future consideration for receipt of a Request for Proposals (RFP).

Shamefully, the City of New York and EDC have conspired to supplant us, and to convey our properties to one or more developer firms that will be selected in secret by EDC and the Project Team. Then, ironically, once we have been forced to depart Willets Point, the City will lavish upon the area all of the services and infrastructure that have been denied to us, despite our payments of City taxes during the past decades.

One candidate, TDC Development, committed more than 4 years ago to redevelop downtown Flushing’s Municipal Lot 1, but as of this day the Chinese-based real estate and development company has failed to even break ground. This project is 1/12th the size of Willets Point. To entrust a firm such as TDC with the proposed Willets Point redevelopment is to direct that project toward the same fate as the now-infamous proposed redevelopment in New London, Connecticut. To quote Councilman and Comptroller-elect John Liu, “*TDC+ seems to think it doesn't need to deliver on the promises it made two years ago. That's at best a woeful miscalculation and at worst just pure greed.” It should be noted that years ago TDC was determined by EDC to qualify to receive an RFP and no more than an expression of continued interest in the project is now required for TDC to remain under consideration.

TDC, plus Briarwood Group, Ciampa Organization, J&K Pi Foundation, Mattone Group, Muss Development, Nash Builders, Palaus, Sokolowski & Sartor and RAMAH, comprise the membership of Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation. This organization is incorporated under Section 1411 of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporations Law, which explicitly prohibits FWPCLDC from attempting to influence legislation. Although FWPCLDC is prohibited from attempting to influence legislation, it has lobbied in favor of the proposed Willets Point redevelopment, and is presently a registered lobbyist. The apparently unlawful activities of FWPCLDC are financed and/or otherwise supported by TDC and the other eight above-identified developer firms. This should disqualify all of them from participating in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

In addition, the city’s plan to use eminent domain to acquire property for private development is itself controversial, but will become much more so if NYCEDC attempts to forcibly acquire properties from their present American owners via condemnation and convey those properties to a non-American entity. To prevent that unconscionable specter, NYCEDC and the Project Team must ensure that fundamentally American firms are exclusively entitled to receive the RFP.

While NYCEDC's RFQ may be intended to elicit responses from developer entities which affirm their qualifications and promote their accomplishments, we submit that this letter – concerning potential developer candidates' lack of qualifications – should be considered equally significant by NYCEDC and the Project Team. We believe that all of the developer firms identified herein are unqualified to participate in the proposed Willets Point Redevelopment, and that they must not receive the RFP.