The Real Deal New York

Willets Point megamall opponents make their case in court

Plaintiffs say city, developers didn't follow proper process in green-lighting Queens project

July 31, 2014 11:50AM

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Rendering of a redeveloped Willets Point (Credit: New York City Economic Development Corp.)

Rendering of a redeveloped Willets Point (Credit: New York City Economic Development Corp.)

Park advocates and civic leaders opposed to the Related Companies and Sterling Equities’ planned megamall adjacent to Citi Field argued their case in State Supreme Court in Manhattan yesterday. 

A group led by State Senator Tony Avella contend that the site for the proposed mall is mapped as parkland, and therefore cannot be used for non-recreational use without the approval of the state legislature. The group hit the city and the project developers with a lawsuit to that effect in February.

John Low-Beer, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said the city and developers did not follow the required public approvals process for the mall plan.

“This may be the greatest project since sliced bread, but the city still has to follow the law,” Low-Beer said during the court session before Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez.

Attorneys for the developers, meanwhile, countered with what they said would be the economic and environmental benefits of the project, enlisting the help of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye to help argue their case.

“Shopping opportunities — I would put that under recreation,” Kaye said.

The city and the developers have two weeks to submit written responses to certain arguments that they said were not included in the original lawsuit. Mendez will then rule on the case. [TimesLedger]Julie Strickland

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