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Though the contracts have been signed and the variance has been approved by the City Council, business owners in Willets Point are not giving up. They want action to be taken by the city, and they want it now.
A handful of owners told their stories while supporters sat with melancholy looks on their faces, somberly nodding when their peers pointed out the hardships they all face.
Two major construction projects were the focal points of Monday night’s occasionally contentious Queens Borough Board meeting at Borough Hall.
Under discussion at the meeting — the second under Borough President Melinda Katz — was the Mattone Group Development Project, which involves the construction of three restaurants on land between the Queens Center Mall and the Long Island Expressway.
A lawsuit will be filed tomorrow, Feb. 7, in an attempt to prevent the construction of a shopping mall in the Citi Field parking lot, which is technically part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Queens Chronicle has learned.
The suit will be brought by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone), City Club, NYC Park Advocates and a number of Corona businesses and residents, according to a source who has seen the papers that will be filed.
Merchants along one of the borough’s busiest and longest commercial strips are moving ahead with plans to create a business improvement district.
Liberty Avenue business owners have proposed a BID for the shopping district stretching from the Van Wyck Expressway in Richmond Hill to Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park — a distance of about 40 blocks. That would make it one of the city’s longest.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder’s legislation that would prevent hazardous materials from being dumped into Jamaica Bay and limit the risk of water contamination passed the state Assembly last week and awaits a vote in the state Senate.
“This legislation is not only vital to protect the waters of Jamaica Bay from hazardous dumping, but it will ensure that thousands of endangered bird species and wildlife remain safe,” said Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) in announcing Assembly passage. “It is unacceptable that the Senate is dragging their feet with this critical legislation and I strongly urge all my colleagues in the Senate to vote on this bill today and ensure our waters do not go another day unprotected.”
Mayor de Blasio this week named new heads of the Small Business Services Department and the Health and Hospitals Corporation, saying both would “aggressively implement progressive, community-based reforms” and deepen their agencies’ connection to the people.
Maria Torres-Springer, a former executive vice president and chief of staff at the city Economic Development Corp., was named to head SBS. Torres-Springer will establish a new revolving loan fund to help local businesses grow, expand outreach to immigrant-owned businesses and help launch new economic development hubs in poorer communities, according to the Mayor’s Office.
They’ve been popping up all over and elected officials, community leaders and residents are hoping the trend of pedestrian plazas will continue.
Since 2008, dozens of plazas have been installed or renovated in New York City and Queens has gotten a good deal of them.
A pilot passenger ferry program between Manhattan and the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts due to end next June instead has been extended five years into 2019.
Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement last Friday, and officials in Western Queens are cheering the decision.
Queens residents who love Flushing Meadows Park can breathe a sigh of relief. It looks like the soccer stadium proposed there will be built in the Bronx instead.
The $400 million arena, to be used by a Major League Soccer franchise, is expected to be built south of Yankee Stadium, according to published reports. It will be located at the site of a bankrupt parking garage and adjacent property.
The Industrial Development Agency, a branch of the Economic Development Corp., approved a proposal Tuesday that will grant Willets Point developers $43 million in tax breaks to raze the “Valley of Ashes” and put a mega-mall and more in its place.
The $3 billion project, spearheaded by the Queens Development Group, recently bought the 23-acre site near Flushing Meadows Corona Park from the city for a dollar.
From a “supportive” mayor to the “nanny” mayor of Queens, Mayor Bloomberg has left business leaders with a range of opinions on his impact on small businesses in the borough.
With 80 percent of the 44,000 businesses in Queens having fewer than 10 employees, according to Rob Mackay of the Queens Economic Development Corp., small businesses make up a significant portion of the Queens economy. Mackay has seen the mayor as someone who’s realized the importance of small businesses for each neighborhood, but as other business owners noted, that was sometimes hard to realize when the “nanny” mayor came into the spotlight.
The ongoing Willets Point development plan is hard to pin down. It is a project with many moving parts that has been lauded as one of the best development deals made in the borough’s history, while at the same time denigrated as an attack on the lower class and outer-borough business owners.
But the colossal plan that has struggled to get its bearings for some time has gained stability over the past few months — after the City Council approved the revised version — and will take its first steps on Saturday when the first round of business relocations will be completed.
The upscale development of Willets Point is one step closer to fruition.
The Queens delegation of the City Council voted Monday in favor of the sale of 23 acres of land across the street from Citi Field in Willets Point, where a tremendous overhaul of the area has been planned. The only opposing vote in the Borough Board tally came from Community Board 7 Chairman Gene Kelty.
Work on rebuilding and extending Linden Place in College Point has been delayed once again with the estimated completion date at least four years away.
Phase 1 to reconstruct the flooded-out Linden Place from Ulmer Street to 23rd Avenue was to begin in 2008 and be completed two years later. Despite complaints from area civic groups, elected officials and Community Board 7, the city’s Economic Development Corp. project has stalled and the completion date is scheduled for next fall, a full four years later than anticipated.
Developers of the $850 million Flushing Commons mixed-use development project are calling reports that work will begin this week premature. It’s actually set to start early next year.
Last week, Crain’s and other business publications announced that the project, which has been delayed three years due to lack of financing, would begin on Thursday, Oct. 31. The date was allegedly the latest allowed by the city’s Economic Development Corp. for the developers, TDC Development and Construction Corp. and Rockefeller Group Development Corp. to begin.
Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced this week that New York State is set to receive an estimated $6.3 billion in further Sandy-relief funding in 2014.
The money is allocated from the $61 billion Sandy aid package that was approved earlier this year by Congress. According to Schumer, less than one-third of the money has been spent.
Last month, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. trumpeted its long-awaited deal with a developer to build a hotel on property it owns across from the Long Island Rail Road’s transit hub on Sutphin Boulevard.
But when Justin Rodgers, director of economic development for the GJDC, made a presentation to Community Board 12 on Oct. 16, it also brought long-established tensions between the two bodies to the surface.
As if the significant increase in noise from overhead airplanes hasn’t been enough, residents of Whitestone and Malba also have had to contend with excessive disruptions from helicopters passing directly over their houses.
The problem stems from a Federal Aviation Administration mandate last year that choppers traveling between the middle of Long Island to the Hamptons must fly over water in an effort to decrease the overhead noise for residents of the island. Following the requirement, helicopter pilots began seeking a faster and cheaper route, resulting in more flights over northeast Queens.
The City Parks Department said a new boardwalk at Rockaway Beach will not have a seawall, despite community efforts to push for more protection along the shoreline.
Plans for the new 4.7-mile $200 million stretch of boardwalk that was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last year are moving quickly and city Parks Commissioner Veronica White has said the plan is to start construction by the end of the year.
In yet another dreary Mets season, Matt Harvey did give fans a number of thrills, such as throwing two scoreless innings as the starting pitcher in the 2013 All-Star Game played at Citi Field this past July. You would have to go back nearly 30 years to Dwight Gooden’s heyday to find a Mets pitcher who could dominate opposing hitters at will.
Harvey was such a big story that Jimmy Fallon used him for a hilarious “man in the street” bit to see how many New Yorkers could recognize him. ESPN Magazine put him on the cover in the buff for its July “body issue” while Men’s Journal ran a feature on him that made it clear he was thoroughly enjoying the trappings of being a handsome, young New York celebrity.
Hungry workers at Willets Point gave a big sigh of relief and decided to return to normal eating habits after the vote on the future of the Iron Triangle by the City Council was moved from Sept. 13 to some undecided date in October.
At Tuesdayís City Council Zoning and Franchises subcommittee meeting Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Corona) grilled developers and spokesmen from the Economic Development Corp. and the Mayorís Office on their plans to build a mall and highway ramps which would then allow them to build much delayed affordable housing units and community centers at Willets Point as well as their plan to relocate the estimated 120 to 165 businesses ó mostly auto body shops that sit on the site just south of Citi Field ó to another spot.
Last week, Community Board 5 received a letter from Samaritan Village, a nonprofit agency that intends to turn a vacant building on Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a homeless shelter.
One week later, residents, elected officials and community leaders are furious about the proposal.
A former parking lot between the Queens Center mall and the Long Island Expressway has been empty for the past 12 years and now the developers who own it want to build three restaurants there.
The College Point-based Mattone Group presented its plan at an informational Newtown Civic Association meeting in Corona Tuesday night. The company would bring in an Olive Garden, a Longhorn Steakhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack, which will cover approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square feet, surrounded by free parking spaces. If the plan moves forward, they predict that the establishments will open in April or May 2014.
Repairing the seawall in Queensbridge Park has been talked about for well over a decade. Last Friday those plans came to fruition when politicians, the Parks Department and dedicated neighborhood advocates dipped their symbolic golden shovels into a pre-dug pile of dirt to commence construction.
The $6.65 million project will raise the crumbling seawall separating the park from the East River in the most northern section of Long Island City across from the Queensbridge Houses. Plans also call for a 6-foot-wide promenade with benches, plantings and a small wharf at its northern end.
A lot can change in five days.
Community Board 7 voted on Monday to approve the proposed Phase One redevelopment of Willets Point, including a controversial 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall adjacent to Citi Field, after its Land Use Committee initially failed to approve the project.