The Real Deal New York

City opts not to fight Willets Point court ruling

Decision could be fatal blow to Related, Sterling redevelopment plans

August 20, 2015 11:55AM

From left: Fred Wilpon, rendering of Willets West in Queens and Stephen Ross

From left: Fred Wilpon, rendering of Willets West in Queens and Stephen Ross

The Related Cos. and Sterling Equities’ plans for the Queens neighborhood of Willets Point received a potential death blow this week when the de Blasio administration decided not to appeal a state court ruling blocking the redevelopment.

While Related and Sterling Equities filed an appeal Wednesday against a state appellate court ruling that the city could not use a parking lot next to the New York Mets’ Citi Field to build a 1 million-square-foot mall, the city did not contest the decision.

The de Blasio administration has effectively backed out of one of predecessor Michael Bloomberg’s signature projects, according to the New York Times, undermining Related and Sterling’s attempts to overturn the ruling on behalf of the city and potentially spelling the end of the project.

The loose agreement Related and Sterling had with the city called for a cleanup of environmental damage in Willets Point to construct a mall next to Citi Field. Plans called for the construction of a theater and small hotel, in addition to 2,500 apartments, 875 of which would be offered to low-and moderate income families. The city, having already spent about $400 million buying land and sprucing up the area, said it needed a hard commitment before it would finalize any deal.

The project has faced much opposition and criticism from Willets Point landowners, local residents and community groups as being too sweet a deal for the developers. [NYT] – Rey Mashayekhi