City representatives and local officials gathered in a dirt lot outside Citi Field last week to break ground on the long-anticipated redevelopment of Willet’s point.
The initial phase will focus on environmental cleanup on what is now six acres of undeveloped land.
“We are going to bring in 1,100 units of affordable housing with zero market-rate units, and units that are going to be set aside for older New Yorkers and those transitioning out of the shelter system,” said Councilman Francisco Moya.
Officials touted the creation of a new school as the project’s crown jewel, which will alleviate overcrowding in the district.
“This represents an opportunity for 650 children in the district to not go into any more crowded schools,” Moya added.
Since Moya took office in 2018, he’s worked closely with Mayor Bill de Blasio to make the project, which got underway during the Bloomberg administration, a reality.
“We needed to be persistent to get this done, and we needed to make sure that it had the maximum impact for the community,” de Blasio said. “We’ve really gotten back to what matters, which is making sure that people can live in this community.”
The cleanup will last into 2022, when the project will shift its focus to creating infrastructure for the redevelopment. The city will begin construction on the housing, school and other amenities in 2024.
The project will include two acres of public open space and 680,000 square feet of retail space.
“Image right here where we’re standing, we’re going to see a thriving neighborhood with affordable homes and a public school and open space for families to enjoy,” said Rachel Loeb president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation.
“It’s not often that we get the opportunity to start from scratch, but with this project we are going to build an entire community from the ground up,” said Councilman Peter Koo of Flushing. “I look forward to the day when Flushing, Willets point, and Corona will share a seamless, integrated community.”
The mayor said the project is part of the “rebirth” of New York and a future that will have impacts for generations.
“We talk about affordable, but sometimes we forget what it means on a very human level,” de Blasio said. “It means a family that will for decades know they will have a place to lay their head. This is the kind of thing that really makes a difference.”