Suit filed to halt planned mall atop Citi Field parking lot

February 11, 2014 01:35PM

Opponents of Sterling Equities and the Related Companies’ plan to construct a shopping mall atop the Citi Field parking lot in Flushing Meadows Corona Park have filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court to halt the development.

Because the site is technically park land, the plaintiffs said, the structure cannot be built without the state legislature’s approval. According to the complaint, the current plan disregards City Charter and zoning regulations. The plaintiffs, who include state Senator Tony Avella, the New York City Park Advocates organization, Queens residents Benjamin Haber and Paul Graziano, good government group the City Club and a number of local businesses, aim to annul the plan, which was approved by City Council near the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure.

Before approving the plan, the Bloomberg administration said the mall proposal was legal according to a 1961 law that permitted the construction of Shea Stadium, Citi Field’s predecessor. The plaintiffs counter that this interpretation of the law is wrong, and that parkland cannot be used for other purposes without the thumbs up from Albany.

“The 1961 law was intended to allow a stadium and uses directly related to a stadium, such as parking, concessions, and other commercial activity typically incidental to a professional sports arena,” John Low-Beer, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said in a statement to the Queens Courier.

In addition to the nullification of the City Council’s earlier approval, the suit aims to declare the mall project illegal and block any further steps towards its construction. It also seeks to nullify city approval for a new parking lot in Willets Point that would replace the current lot at Citi Field. [Queens Chronicle]Julie Strickland