City acquires fourth Willets Point parcel

By Adam Pincus | July 22, 2008 04:02PM

A Willets Point property owner with 4,000 square feet of land within the proposed 62-acre development site has become the fourth business owner to agree to sell to the city and relocate.

Flushing Towing owner Carlos Canal said his company will relocate from 126-28 35th Avenue to a property in Flushing that is vacant and zoned for industrial uses but not owned by the city. Neither Canal nor EDC would comment on the price.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation is pushing a $3 billion mixed-use project at Queens’ so-called Iron Triangle, near the Mets new stadium, CitiField. Three other companies owning a total of 95,500 square feet signed agreements with the city over the past two months. The deals are contingent upon approval through the city’s land-use process.

“I am happy with the deal I am making,” Canal said. “I want to move out of here. Every single day we have a problem … You can’t work in these conditions.”

Canal, who has worked in the area for 18 years, said he lacks plumbing for a bathroom and must use a portable toilet.

Patricia Jones, a spokeswoman for the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association, which is fighting the plan, said she was unimpressed by the city’s deals.

“It is truly meaningless,” she said. “Four out of 260 businesses in four years, that is not impressive, especially when we are growing.”

The other businesses that are selling to the city are: Sambucci Bros Inc. Auto Salvage, with 52,000 square feet; BRD Corp., with 22,000 square feet; and Met Metals with 17,500 square feet.
Her group announced last week that it added five businesses to its coalition, which now represents about half of the land still in the hands of private owners.

The business owners group opposes the use of eminent domain in the development process. It believes the area could be rehabilitated for industrial use with improved infrastructure at a fraction of the city’s planned cost, Jones said.

The city’s EDC was not immediately available to comment.

The city’s plan would create 5,500 apartments, a hotel, a convention center, and a school, as well as retail and office space. The local community board approved the proposal, but local Queens council members Hiram Monserrate, John Liu and Tony Avella have opposed it.