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Queens Chronicle

Reject Willets Point deceit

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 3:56 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2013.

Dear Editor:

There are many reasons for the New York City Council to reject the application of Sterling Equities and Related Companies that seek to amend the 2008 approved Willets Point Plan.

The amendment, which seeks to build a parking lot at Willets Point, is a ploy to sneak through the back door a transfer of the Citi Field parking lots so as to allow construction on the vacated lots, a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall, without a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and without replacing parkland since Citi Field is in fact located on land that is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Affordable housing will not be built until 2015, if ever.

At the top of the list of deceptions that have accompanied the application is the claim they require a prioritized Citi Field shopping mall as a financial engine to generate enough funds with which to construct the original Willets Point Plan, suggesting that without it, the original plan cannot be accomplished. Ignoring this speculation, it is simply untrue and a ploy to have the mall, which is what the application is all about. The Related Companies are the developers of the $20 billion development currently underway over the Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The claim that these multi-billion-dollar companies — which are being given the Willets Point land the city acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars (and more in the future) for $1.00 and a subsidy of $99 million dollars — do not have the financial wherewithal to build Willets Point without a huge shopping mall is an insult, unworthy of belief and in and of itself a reason to reject the application.

The original Willets Point plan approved by the City Council in 2008, is one thing. A deceptive huge shopping mall,is something totally different and unacceptable. It remains to be seen if the word from the City Council is that its constituents are not just billionaire real estate moguls, but the little people, the poor, the middle class and small businesses, which are the backbone of an urban society, and it rejects the application.

Benjamin M. Haber

Welcome to the discussion.