This week’s NY Observer has a good recap of the Willets Point standoff. We’ve been updating folks on this interesting sidebar to the CitiField construction project. Highlights from the Observer:
The latest redevelopment scheme, a relatively little-noticed part of Mr. Bloomberg's NYC 2030 plan, is also stadium-related. Willets Point is adjacent to the Mets' $600 million new ballpark presently being erected, and the team has a deal with the city to pay exactly zero dollars of real estate taxes on the stadium each year, meaning New York must generate a subsidiary economy to recoup the infrastructure dollars and tax breaks it's invested.
Thus far eight private firms have submitted proposals for a $2 to $3 billion mixed-use development the city envisions as a privately built-and-owned upscale project including over 5,000 housing units (much of it below market prices), a half million square feet of office space, more than a million and a half square feet of shops and restaurants and a 700-room hotel to transform the area into what the EDC calls "a vibrant and attractive new urban community."
The administration argues that the area needs to be redeveloped at once in order to clean up years of oil spills and illegal dumping. But given that some 82 percent of the businesses in the Triangle rent rather than own, it's easy to envision the area transforming itself, with no government seizure of private property, in just a few years.
Instead, the Bloomberg administration is reverting to an M.O. of forcefully displacing politically unconnected private owners on behalf of wealthy and plugged-in new private owners, while purchasing the backing of much of the usual resistance from the left by compelling the new ownership to include affordable housing. This also allows the administration to tout the number of new subsidized units that have gone up on its watch, few of which are actually very affordable. Some 60 years into the city's endlessly subsidized eternal housing "crisis," the shell game continues apace.