Silverstein, Douglaston, Related Vying to Develop Willets Point
World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, Queens developer Jeff Levine and Related Cos. chairman Stephen Ross are among those seeking to develop Willets Point, the polluted, 62-acre auto repair district next to Citi Field, according to city records.
The names are part of a list of 29 firms released by the Bloomberg administration in response to a freedom of information request made to the city earlier this year. The list includes five firms—Related, Muss Development, the Westfield Corporation, TDC Development and the Macerich Company—that bid in 2006 on the project as part of an earlier solicitation by the city to develop the site. Three of those earlier finalists did not bid this time around, ending their ability to win the development: Forest City Ratner, Vornado Realty Trust and General Growth Properties.
Here’s the full list, which includes Mr. Silverstein’s Silverstein Properties, Mr. Levine’s Douglaston Development, and the Georgetown Company, a firm led by former City Planning Commission chairman Joe Rose:
CPC Resources, Inc
Edward J Minskoff Equities, Inc
Hamlin Ventures, LLC
King’s Associates Inc
L & M Development Partners
Richman Group of New York, LLC
Rosenshein Associates/LCOR Incorporated
Settlement House Fund, Inc
Silverstein Properties, Inc
SSJ Development, LLC
The Arker Companies
The Beechwood Organization
The Georgetown Company
The city rezoned the Willets Point area in 2008 over the objections of many of the business owners that would be evicted or relocated, given that the city expects to use eminent domain to take control of the full site. Since, the opposition from the main landowners has died down—many of them cut their own deals with the city—while the smaller business owners have tried to raise concerns about traffic issues and the legality of a local development corporation that was established to lobby for the project. That organization, the Flushing/Willets Point/Corona LDC, was funded in part by the Bloomberg administration, which effectively directed funds to lobby the City Council and community board. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began investigating this issue last summer after the business owners questioned its legality, although he has yet to issue any findings.
Otherwise, the bulk of the approvals are in place for the development, with the largest apparent hurdles being those of funding: The Bloomberg administration insists it has enough money in its budget to proceed with the project, although some bidders and onlookers are skeptical of this claim given the high cost of acquisitions. The Bloomberg administration has also said that the bidders would pay for the remediation of the development site, although a firm price tag has not been established.
The development is slated to be awarded in three phases, with the most valuable parcel going first, followed by two parcels that are further away from the subway stop at the southern end of the site. The winning bidder for the first parcel would have an option on acquiring the second.