The city’s Economic Development Corporation has narrowed the field to eight major firms for the redevelopment of Willets Point.
The eight, who have until May 5 to submit proposals, were announced Friday. They are: the Macerich Company and AvalonBay Corp.; the Westfield Corp.; Vornado Realty Trust; TDC Development; Forest City Ratner Companies; The Related Companies; General Growth Properties, Rosenshein Associates, LCOR Inc. and Sage Hotel Corp.; and Muss Development.
The city’s development arm announced earlier this year that it was seeking a request for proposals on the 75-acre Willets Point area. In 2004, it had issued a request for expressions of interest for redeveloping the area and narrowed the list last year to 13 plans.
Now that pool has been reduced to eight, and the city has said that the ultimate winning plan could be from more than one developer working together or separately.
Located across the Flushing River from downtown Flushing, Willets Point—also known as the Iron Triangle—has long been a sore point for the community with its rundown auto junkyards, unpaved streets and lack of sewers. It is also adjacent to Shea Stadium, where construction on a new ballpark will begin this spring.
The Willets Point redevelopment is expected to include a hotel, public recreation, residential and commercial uses.
“I have seen the concepts and they show how much potential the location holds for the area and the city,” Flushing Councilman John Liu said.
Willets Point includes 75 acres with 80 businesses that would have to be relocated— probably through eminent domain by the city and state at an estimated cost of $214.5 million. EDC President Andrew Alper said the area “presents challenging but potentially highly rewarding development opportunities. With the new Mets stadium project moving forward, the area presents even greater development potential.”
The eight finalists have a variety of projects in Queens and elsewhere in their portfolios. The Macerich Company owns and operates shopping malls including Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst. AvalonBay Corp. is responsible for putting up high-end apartments along the East River in Long Island City’s Queens West development.
The Westfield Corp. of Los Angeles, owns and manages shopping centers across the country, including two on Long Island in Massapequa and Bayshore.
Vornado Realty was a finalist to redevelop Municipal Parking Lot 1 in downtown Flushing. It operates Rego Park Center (the Sears mall) and Green Acres Mall on Long Island.
TDC Development is a Flushing firm that is currently building Queens Crossing, a large mixed-use structure on Main Street and 39th Avenue. It also built the Flushing Mall on 39th Avenue, PrinceCenter, a six-story office building on 39th Avenue and Sanford Tower, a mixed-use apartment building. Working with the Rockefeller Group, the firm was selected last year to redevelop the downtown Flushing municipal parking lot for retail space, residential, a movie theater, open parkland and underground parking. It is believed that TDC will only be offering a plan for a hotel in Willets Point.
Forest City Ratner is a real estate development company responsible for Queens Place, an Elmhurst mall, a shopping center in Maspeth, Steinway Street theaters and is currently making plans to build a sports arena in the Atlantic Yards area of Brooklyn.
The Related Companies developed Time Warner Center, hotels and condominiums in Manhattan and the College Point retail center on 20th Avenue.
General Growth Properties runs the South Street Seaport and Staten Island Mall. Rosenshein Associates has retail projects in the Bronx and Yonkers. LCOR is developing the John F. Kennedy International Air Terminal/Delta expansion for $3 billion. Sage Hotel Corp. is a Boston firm that manages and runs hotels in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Muss Development is a Forest Hills firm that announced last year it will develop a 14-acre site on College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing that will include housing and retail space. The firm is almost 100 years old. Some of its other projects include Queens Tower on 165th Street in Jamaica and Forest Hills Tower on Queens Boulevard.
The city has already conducted environmental, engineering and soil surveys of Willets Point. Next it will select a consultant to prepare an environmental impact statement and then will begin the public review process.
The final selection of developers will be made after that. Liu predicts it could be less than the 17 months it took to select a developer for the parking lot project.