Mets owner airs development plans for space around Citi Field
State legislation could buoy redevelopment around Citi Field
Bill would “alienate” parkland, requirement for construction
Years after plans to redevelop parking lots around Citi Field were stopped because the state legislature failed to re-designate what is technically parkland, a local lawmaker has written a bill to do just that.
Assemblyperson Jeffrion Aubry unveiled a bill calling for the redevelopment of the Citi Field parking lot in Queens, The City reported. The bill references a gaming facility — that is, a casino — and anything related.
The critical part of the legislation, however, is the “alienation” of parkland, a designation held by the Flushing parking lot. That needs to be changed to allow for construction.
Aubry’s bill mentioned the parkland can be alienated through leases with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s lobbying firm, among others. The measure would provide a private developer two options: acquire replacement parkland or invest the equivalent fair market value toward capital improvements of existing parkland which must also include 20 acres of open space within the project area.
The parkland component derailed a previous effort to redevelop around Citi Field. In 2017, the Queens Development Group — a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities — lost an appeal to build a mall on the parking lot, in part because of the alienation process. It appears a lesson has been learned since then.
There is still a disconnect in the air, though. Another representative of the neighborhood, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, said she was blindsided by Aubry’s bill, having planned to introduce her own version. She mentioned that she would need to read the bill and “have some conversations.” For a measure to become law, equivalent versions must pass the Senate and Assembly.
Cohen has been holding visioning sessions for the area around Citi Field. His goal is to eliminate vacant space and remove the barriers dividing neighborhoods from each other and the Flushing Bay waterfront. He also wants to bring year-round entertainment to the 50 acres available, including a casino, although he aims to move forward without one if the state does not award him one of the three downstate casino licenses up for grabs.
Cohen has pitched city officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, on putting a casino in the Citi Field parking lot, which is mired in lease and bond agreements and has proven to be difficult to redevelop.
— Holden Walter-Warner
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