Two game-changing Queens development projects seem to be in the cards after announcements last week. But how real are they?
Mayor Eric Adams put his clout behind a newly revealed plan for a soccer stadium, hotel and “affordable” residential complex in Willets Point next to Citi Field. Meanwhile, a key City Council subcommittee approved an amended plan for a controversial, five-block, mixed-use project in Astoria called Innovation QNS.
Willets Point looks like an all-but-done deal even though actual buildings have yet to be designed. (The image on this page is conceptual.) Moreover, although the stadium is budgeted at $780 million, no estimates are available for the rest of the project.
But even more important than Adams’ support is the full-on backing of Council member Francisco Moya, a soccer aficionado who represents the district and is cheerleading the stadium plan. Under the Council’s notorious “member deference” policy, the member who reps a district can single-handedly scuttle a project that requires public review — the way Kristin Richardson Jordan did to One45 in central Harlem last summer.
The sexiest part of the Willets Point complex on city-owned land must undergo the tortuous, seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure — namely, the stadium, 1,400 affordable apartments and a hotel. (Plans for Phase I, which will deliver the site’s first 1,100 units and a 650-seat school, were approved in 2013.)
But with Moya on board, the NYCFC, which will pay for the stadium, and Related Companies and Wilpon-owned Sterling Equities, which will jointly develop the rest of the site, shouldn’t have to sweat it out.
Related, which has vast experience in building affordable housing across the US, is expected to tap city Housing Preservation and Development incentives to make construction “affordable” for the developers.
But Innovation QNS could be a different story.
The $2 billion proposal by Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners to redevelop five low-rise blocks scored a win last week when it was approved by the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.
The step followed major concessions by the developers. Among them, they’ll create twice the number of permanently affordable units (1,436) than originally planned, of which 500 would be priced at 30 percent of the neighborhood’s median income level.
But it might not be enough to satisfy Council member Julie Won. Asked by The Post whether she would seek further modifications, her spokesperson referred us to Won’s statement that, “This vote is only a preliminary approval of the project.”
She added, “I am diligently finalizing negotiations for commitments from the developer and the Mayoral administration. As the Council Member, I will utilize every accountability measure to ensure that our community wins are actualized.”