A new plan to develop more than 20 acres of Willets Point in Queens could cost taxpayers more than an earlier proposal.
The city and the developers — Related Companies and the Wilpon family — recently cut a deal to build 1,100 apartments for low- to moderate-income tenants, in addition to space for retail and a school. A task force will determine what should be built on the remaining 17 acres.
The new plan scraps the idea for a giant shopping mall, which was originally billed as a way to make the overall project economically feasible. According to Crain’s, the cost of building affordable housing on city-owned land clocks in at about $350,000 per unit, so the Willets Point project could cost about $385 million. Much of that price tag will be paid for by government bonds or loans. The city would be expected to chip in roughly $200 million for loans, and another $127 million or so could come from federal low-income-housing tax credits.
“The initial transaction was not going to result in housing getting built on any realistic time frame,” a City Hall spokesperson told Crain’s said in a statement. “To get these apartments built here and now, we’ve peeled away speculative elements like the shopping mall and structured this like any other affordable-housing project.” [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel