Related, Sterling file first plans for Willets Points housing

Details revealed for two buildings with 881 affordable units

From left: Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, Sterling Equities’ Fred Wilpon, and Willets Point in Queens (Getty, Jim.henderson/Public domain - via Wikimedia Commons)
From left: Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, Sterling Equities’ Fred Wilpon, and Willets Point in Queens (Getty, Jim.henderson/Public domain - via Wikimedia Commons)

Related Companies and the Wilpon family’s Sterling Equities filed plans for a pair of large affordable housing projects on land next to Citi Field.

The filing by Queens Development Corp, a joint venture of the firms, calls for two 12-story mixed-use developments at 126-43 and 126-55 39th Avenue in Willets Point.

With 881 affordable apartments between them, the buildings represent the bulk of the 1,100 such units promised when city officials announced in February 2018 a deal for the first phase of the broader redevelopment of the area. Plans for a third affordable building have yet to be filed.

At the time, the de Blasio administration said construction of the homes would begin in 2020. But not until June 2021 did they announce the start of the environmental cleanup that would pave the way for the development.

The building at 126-43 39th Avenue would consist of 534 affordable units across 521,000 square feet. About 447,000 square feet would be dedicated to residential and 74,000 to retail. The development would include a 186-spot parking garage.

The other building would be 347 units and 329,000 square feet — 284,000 residential and 43,000 commercial. The development would also have a 2,200-square-foot community facility and 136 parking spots.

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City officials insisted the affordable housing be built before the profitable components of the sweeping redevelopment of Willets Point, an edgy industrial area with convenient access to highways, the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road, but also significant ground contamination.

The Bloomberg administration spearheaded the overhaul, which has faced and largely overcome significant opposition, but not without some setbacks. Many, but not all, of the auto repair shops that make up the so-called Iron Triangle have been relocated.

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When the Queens Borough Board approved the Willets Point redevelopment last year, the plans called for 1,100 affordable residential units across three buildings, 25,000 square feet of retail, one acre of public space, a 650-seat public elementary school, a 3,000-square-foot community facility and roughly 300 parking spaces. Construction was slated to begin in 2024 on the six-acre lot next to Citi Field, home to the New York Mets.

A 25,000-seat soccer stadium could be built for Major League Soccer club NYCFC on land leased by Related and Sterling within the 61-acre Special Willets Point District. The Wilpons and Saul Katz sold the Mets for $2.4 billion in 2020 to investor Steve Cohen.

Elsewhere in Queens, Broadway 32nd Realty Corp filed plans last week for a 15-story, 255,000-square-foot project 141-46 Northern Boulevard in development-crazed Flushing. It would have 121 luxury residential units, commercial space, a community facility and about 200 off-street and enclosed parking spots.

At the borough’s southern edge, Ocean Way 3 filed plans for a 12-story, 476,000-square-foot mixed-use development at 141 Beach 67 Street in Arverne. The project, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, would consist of 273 residential units across roughly 257,000 square feet, about 219,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 175 parking spaces.