The Real Deal New York

Two-thirds of Willets Point businesses agree to move out

Exodus paves way for Related, Sterling Equities' redevelopment project
March 10, 2014 01:44PM

A group of Willets Point business have agreed to accept roughly $2 million in relocation benefits to depart their industrial spots, thus making way for the Related Companies and Sterling Equities’ $3 billion redevelopment of the area.

The so-called Sunrise Cooperative, the largest chunk of Willets Point holdouts to agree to leave the 62-acre area, represent roughly two-thirds of all Willets Point business owners, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mostly, the group consists of a number of auto-repair shops.

The developers of a planned mega-mall and residences in the area have long pushed for the departure of the business, but have met with resistance.

Now that so many holdouts have changed their tune, area business owners say, the pressure will rise for remaining outfits to also strike a deal.

“It’s hard to leave because I’ve been in this area for 25 years,” Marco Neira, a restaurant owner and leader of the Sunrise Cooperative told the Journal. “But we have to be realistic that we can’t stay in This Place anymore.”

The Sunrise group is eligible for roughly $2 million of the $3 million in relocation benefits that’s been set aside for departing Willets Point businesses, Kyle Kimball, president of the Economic Development Corp. told the Journal. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A group of 40 to 60 businesses signed lease deals to relocate from Queens to the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, and roughly 50 will remain following the Sunrise Cooperative’s pull out. The remaining negotiations are likely to be contentious, as those tenants have formed a collective hoping to relocate tenants in small groups. [WSJ]Julie Strickland