Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parking Lot Plan

You know we bet that when the city council was contemplating the Willets Point development plan-and the use of eminent domain-it didn't think that the local businesses would be removed to build a parking lot. But that's what the city is apparently looking to do on the heels of the collapse of its original scheme. The Queens Chronicle has the story:

"Plans to move Citi Field parking across the street to Willets Point and other details of the city’s redevelopment project were leaked to news sources last week...Although nothing has been officially confirmed, more information on the plans has surfaced. Published reports say that the developers will first clean up about 20 acres and then build parking lots, a retail strip and a 200-room, 10-story hotel on 126th Street."

The EDC's lack of imagination doesn't stop there-and as if one retail mall isn't enough it proposes to double the pleasure: "Once that is completed, a one-million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex would be built on the existing Citi Field parking lots. Only then would the developers go back to the city’s original plan and build housing in Willets Point."

In the year 2025! Sure they will. But the city and its developers are not a sure thing: "Once the plan is formally announced, the overall project has lots of hurdles to overcome. It will require a new environmental review, public hearings and approval by the City Council."

We wonder how the traffic generated by 1 and 1/2 million square feet of national retailers will be mitigated? And how the original traffic studies will be explained-you know the ones that offered a Chinese menu of contradictory data? This should actually be quite entertaining-as will the explanation of why property should be condemned so that Related-and its partner in crime Sterling Equities-can make a big score over the dead bodies of small property owners.

That's us at WPU-and we're not just going to disappear: "One group leading the attack is Willets Point United, made up of businesses that don’t want to move. They have successfully fought eminent domain and continue to oppose the city’s plan to add new entrance and exit ramps on the Van Wyck Expressway...One of the businesses determined to stay is Bono Sawdust Supply Co. located on 127th Place, just a block from 126th Street. It’s headed by Jack Bono and his son, Jake, who said in 2008 that they were certain a portion of Willets Point would eventually be used by the Mets for parking. Their prediction proved to be true."

All of this is complicated by the fact that Mike Bloomberg will soon leave office and the next year will be politically contentious. WPU plans to continue to fight and we are looking forward to joining forces with those elected officials that understand the unfairness of the city's myopic approach to development.