The Real Deal New York

Judge tosses suit from opponents of Willets Point deal

Court rules city's parkland lease for $3B mega-mall project did not violate state law

August 20, 2014 03:40PM
By Mark Maurer

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Willets Point rendering (Inset: Sterling Equities’ Fred Wilpon and Related Companies’ Jeff Blau)

UPDATED, 4:42 p.m., Aug. 20: A New York state Supreme Court judge rejected a lawsuit this week from opponents of the Willets Point mega-mall redevelopment who claimed that it violated state law.

A group including State Senator Tony Avella and City Club of New York argued that the city broke the law when it planned to lease parkland to developers Related Companies and Fred Wilpon’s Sterling Equities. The plaintiffs allege that the  Uniform Land Use Review Procedure was not properly executed. Lawyer John Low-Beer represented those who filed suit. 

Judge Manuel Mendez found that there was no violation of the public trust and no need for injunctive relief.

“It has been established that ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] does not apply to the development plans and review of the business terms for the disposition of the parkland formerly used for Shea Stadium,” Mendez wrote in his decision. These powers have devolved to [Mayor Bill de Blasio] who has approved the development plan.”

A spokesperson for Related and Sterling – also known as the Queens Development Group – said the court decision marks another victory for the project.

“The ruling is unequivocal in saying that the project is consistent with state law and rejecting every argument to the contrary,” the developers said in a joint statement. “More important, the decision reinforces the support that the City Council and a wide array of community stakeholders have given to this project.”

The plaintiffs that filed the suit could not be immediately reached for comment. The group plans to appeal the decision, according to the blog A Walk in the Park.

The $3 billion plan includes residential space and a mega mall and is set to displace hundreds of car repair shops located in the area. The developers plans to overhaul the 23-acre site it bought from the city for $1 in 2013. Two acres have already been transferred to the developers. The City Council approved the project in October, as previously reported.

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