Today, Task Force member the Pratt Center for Community Development released a report, Making Willet’s Point Work: a Plan for Neighborhood Success, outlining the failures of the City’s redevelopment plan for Willets Point, Queens, and making suggestions for improvements to the plan.

The City’s plan calls for a complete redevelopment of the industrial area, known as the “Iron Triangle,” which would include taking properties by eminent domain from business owners who are unwilling to relocate. The new development would include a convention center and hotels, housing, retail, a school, and open space.

Although Bloomberg has promised a green community with mixed-income housing, as well as job training and other assistance to displaced workers, local business owners and area residents are saying it’s not enough. the Pratt report notes,”Currently, the City’s proposal fails to address the most urgent concern of the businesses and workers set to be displaced: they will lose their livelihoods. It does not identify the consequences of New York City losing what has been its largest auto services district. Meanwhile, the housing and economic development plans for Willets Point don’t align with the needs for deeply affordable housing, good jobs that serve the local population, and site uses that benefit, rather than burden the adjacent communities…” The report then fleshes out five major recommendations for improving the plan:

  • Do right by existing businesses and workers
  • Make most of the housing affordable to a wide range of low/moderate/middle-income families
  • Create good jobs targeted to local residents and workers
  • Provide the necessary physical and social infrastructure
  • Respect and connect to surrounding neighborhoods (especially Corona, East Elmhurst, and Flushing)

In preparing this report, Pratt Center consulted with local groups, including: Queens for Affordable Housing, Queens Community House, Asian Americans for Equality, Good Jobs New York, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan, Habitat for Humanity, ACORN, Queens Congregations United for Action and the New York Immigration Coalition, and held workshops attended by over 300 area residents and local business owners.

Certification of the City’s plan, which will trigger the beginning of the ULURP process, is expected on Feburary 25, unless the NYC Economic Development Corporation decides to make any changes in response to protests from local business owners, the recommendations of the community, and opposition from local City Council Members (such as Hiram Monserrate, who has encouraged his colleagues to vote against the plan).  This is another plan that we will be following closely throughout the process.

Willets Point map via Queens Crap.