Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is reversing course and supporting plans for a controversial mall and residential complex in Willets Point.
The proposed project, which is being developed by Related Companies and Sterling Equities, is expected to feature a one-million-square foot mall near Citi Field. Previously, the city withdrew its support of the developers over concerns that the project didn’t prioritize housing, since the project’s apartment didn’t have to be built until mid-2022. The project would include 2,500 apartments, with 875 set aside for low- to middle-income tenants, though the affordable units weren’t required under the deal reached with the previous administration.
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in August 2015 that she wouldn’t have signed off on the project, which was approved during the Bloomberg administration.
Yet, the de Blasio administration recently filed court briefs supporting the developers in a lawsuit over the transfer of city parkland — the parking lot where the mall is planned — without approval from the state legislature. A lower court had blocked the project, and the developers are appealing that decision.
The de Blasio administration opted out of the appeal in 2015 but has since rejoined. Mayoral spokesperson Melissa Grace said the administration is still pushing the developers to start building the affordable housing component sooner than 2022.
“From the get-go, we’ve continued to push the development team to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing,” Grace said. “The city joined the appeal as an act of good faith as part of those talks, and to defend the broader city land use rules, which were not at issue in the earlier decision but were likely to arise once an appeal was heard.”
[Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel