Following last week’s announcements, two revolutionary development projects for Queens appear to be in the pipeline. But how real are they?
Mayor Eric Adams has been influential in a recently unveiled plan for a football stadium, hotel and “affordable” housing estate at Willets Point next to City Field. Meanwhile, a key city council subcommittee has approved a revised plan for a controversial five-block mixed-use project in Astoria called Innovation QNS.
Willets Point looks like a done deal, although the actual buildings are yet to be designed. (The image on this page is a concept image.) Moreover, while the stadium has a $780 million budget, there are no estimates for the rest of the project.
But even more important than Adams’ support is the full support of Council member Francisco Moya, the football fan who represents the district and supports the stadium plan. Under the Council’s notorious “respect for members” policy, a member who represents a district can single-handedly derail a project that requires public comment—like Kristin Richardson Jordan did with One45 in downtown Harlem last summer.
The sexiest part of the Willets Point complex, on land owned by the city, must pass a grueling seven-month Uniform Land Use Review process, namely the stadium, 1,400 available apartments and a hotel. (Plans for Phase I, which will build the first 1,100 apartments and a 650-seat school, were approved in 2013.)
But with Moya on board, NYCFC, which will pay for the stadium, and related companies and Wilpon’s Sterling Equities, which will jointly develop the rest of the ground, won’t have to sweat.
Related, which has extensive experience building affordable housing in the US, is expected to use city building incentives to preserve and develop housing to make building “affordable” for developers.
But Innovation QNS may be a different story.
A $2 billion proposal by Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners to redevelop five low-rise blocks won last week when it was approved by the City Council’s Zoning and Franchise Subcommittee.
The move followed major concessions from developers. Among them, they will create twice as many permanently available apartments (1,436) as originally planned, of which 500 will cost 30 percent of the area’s median income.
But that may not be enough to satisfy Council member Julie Vaughn. Asked by The Post if she would push for further changes, her spokesperson cited Won’s statement that “this vote is only a preliminary approval of the project.”
She added: “I am diligently finalizing the negotiations on the obligations of the developer and the mayor’s office. As a member of the Council, I will use every measure of accountability to ensure that our community’s victories are realized.”