Sales  ·  Land

Related, Sterling Equities and NYCFC Buy Willets Point Parcels for $12M

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It’s the end of an era for the junkyards made famous in “The Great Gatsby” that once littered a 40-acre triangle in Queens.

Related, Sterling Equities and New York City Football Club (NYCFC) bought 19,800 square feet of vacant land at 126-17 34th Avenue and 126-11 34th Avenue in Willets Point, Queens, from Eric Benaim for $12.3 million, Commercial Observer has learned. It’s the last large chunk of land the developers need to carry out their master plan for the entire neighborhood, which includes New York City’s first soccer stadium and new affordable housing.

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The Benaim family has owned the properties since 1977 and held on even when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to use eminent domain to raze the neighborhood.

“It feels weird that we don’t own it anymore, it’s been in my family forever,” said Benaim, a Queens native and head of Benaim X Partners. “We were the last holdout. But a year and a half ago, I was approached by Related and we were able to make a deal.”

Its fate now rests in the developers’ hands. Their three-phase master plan encompasses the entire neighborhood and includes a 25,000-seat soccer stadium, 2,500 affordable housing units, a school, a hotel, retail space, and 40,000 square feet of public open space.

Phase one is currently underway, and the developers broke ground on the first affordable housing house site in December.

The two 34th Avenue parcels, near the corner of Northern Boulevard and 126th Street, sit on the northwest corner of Willets Point where the developers are proposing an affordable housing project, according to their zoning application. The lots are currently zoned for up to 60,000 buildable square feet, but Related, Sterling and NYCFC want to upzone that to allow for a higher-density development.

Earlier this week, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards recommended the zoning application for the second phase of the Willets Point development, sending it on to the New York City Council for a vote. 

There were no brokers in the sale, which went into contract in March and closed on Thursday. A spokesperson for the developers declined to comment.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.