After spending two years cleaning up 23 acres of Willets Point, the Related Companies and Sterling Equities will start developing the site with a hotel and retail development just east of Citi Field on 126th Street, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today in officially unveiling the plans for the 50-years-in-the-making, $3 billion project.
The developers will start with $100 million in capital funds from the city to demolish faulty infrastructure, clean contaminated lands and build permanent improvements that form the groundwork of the project. Once complete, they’ll begin construction on a 200-room hotel and 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurants.
After the first phase for the eastern portion of the site is finished, Related and Sterling will begin work on Willets West, which calls for the conversion of a stadium parking lot into one million square feet of retail and entertainment space, including 200 retail stories, movie theaters, restaurants and entertainment venus. Willets West also includes parking for 2,500 cars and public spaces.
The creation of retail and hotel rooms before housing was a major point of negotiation for the developers, who reportedly felt housing would be unsuccessful in the neighborhood if these amenities weren’t in place first.
Following Willets West, the developers will return to the east side of Citi Field and create 2,500 housing units, including 875 affordable ones, 280 more hotel rooms, 900,000 square feet of street-level retail space and 500,000 square feet of office space. Additional phases would progress has planned, and the full 62-acre Willets Point plan would allow for up to 5,500 units of housing, a convention center and an eight-acre park.
“Today the ‘valley of ashes’ is well on its way to becoming the site of historic private investment, major job creation and unprecedented environmental remediation,” Bloomberg said. “Investing in infrastructure and laying the groundwork for private investment are hallmarks of our administration’s economic development strategy, and projects like this one are part of the reason our economy is doing better than the rest of the country.”
The city said it has acquired, or has reached agreements to acquire, approximately 95 percent of the land needed for the project and it will assist with business relocation ahead of the start of construction.
Bloomberg said the development would create 12,000 unionized construction jobs and 7,100 permenant jobs. The project will generate $150 million in annual tax revenue on top of the $310 million in tax revenue expected during construction. — Adam Fusfeld