Thursday, August 20, 2015

De Blasio Declines To Join Willets Point West Appeal - Not Due To Preserving Parkland Or Legal Grounds However

The De Blasio administration has elected not to join an appeal by developers over the Willets Point West lawsuit they lost last month. The administration is doing this not in an effort to protect public park land but instead in the hopes of renegotiating better affordable housing terms than the deal struck under Bloomberg the De Blasio administration.  

Related Companies and Sterling Equities are looking to build a 1.4 million square foot mall on 48 acres of mapped parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, west of Citi-Field stadium.  This represents the largest public parkland giveaway in recent history. The proposed Willets Point West Mall project would allow the seizing of the public parkland to be used exclusively for non-park purposes without first getting State Alienation approval as is required under the law.  The construction of such a mall on public parkland would be unprecedented. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


By Geoffrey Croft

In yet another example of its lack of interest in protecting public parkland the De Blasio administration has declined to support plaintiff's efforts to preserve 48 acres in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.      

In an effort to renegotiate better terms of a terrible Willets Point affordable housing deal struck under Bloomberg the De Blasio administration has chosen not to join an appeal filed by developers over the Willets Point West lawsuit they lost last month, according to Crain's New York Business.

The New York State Appellate Division ruled in favor of plaintiffs, including NYC Park Advocates, who sued to block the city and the Queens Development Group from seizing nearly 48 acres of public parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. 

The court ruled that the project violated the Public Trust Doctrine and prevents any construction on parkland from going forward. 

The Queens Development Group - a joint venture between The Related Companies and Sterling Equities, whose owners are New York Met's principle owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz,  are attempting to build a 1.4 million square foot mall as part of a 48 acre project in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. 

The proposed mall on parkland however was never part of the original Willets Point development that was approved in 2008. The public land was thrown in to sweeten the deal for developers and was never approved.  

According to the article in Crains, it appears the de Blasio administration is looking to renegotiate the timetable for delivery of affordable housing units in the project, among other things. The Willets Point project, located on the other side of Citi-Field involves clearing 24 acres of auto shops and junkyards, installing infrastructure.

Area residents, open space advocates,  and business owners have long criticized the deal as a giveaway to private developers. 

City Council member, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland,  who helped deliver the project for the developers and the Bloomberg administration,  has indicated she is open to renegotiating to see if the city can get a better deal. 

"We really wanted to see significant improvements that would mean that the public would also see a healthy mix of affordable and market-rate housing, delivered on a real time frame," Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said in a statement to the publication.

"We know a lot has gone into this project, and we hope that this team will continue to work towards that goal with us."

Protecting parkland however is not part of the goal. 

The Related Companies and Sterling Equities just got approval to build this mall on the western parking lot of Citi Field.
Proposed Nightmare - Willets Point West.  

Read More:

De Blasio in stunning about-face on De Blasio Willets Point project
The mayor's decision not to appeal a court ruling threatening the project reveals his attempt to renegotiate terms of the $3 billion redevelopment.
Crain's New York Business - August 19, 2015 -  By Joe Anuta

Court Rejects Parkland Shopping Mall Deal In Flushing Meadows Corona Park
A Walk In The Park - By Geoffrey Croft 

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