NYC Council OKs Willets Point Soccer Stadium, Housing Redevelopment Plan

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A 25,000-seat soccer stadium and 1,400 homes are set to replace the junkyards and auto shops in Willets Point, Queens, after the New York City Council approved plans for the project Thursday.

The City Council voted almost unanimously in favor of the project that will include a 650-seat school and a 350-room hotel as well as the stadium to house the New York City Football Club.

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Just hours prior to the approval, the City Council’s Committee on Land Use voted unanimously in favor of the rezoning of the 23 acres through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

This is the second phase of the project to get the OK following the late 2023 groundbreaking for the first phase of 1,100 affordable units. The project area in Councilmember Francisco Moya’s district was for years home to a squalid collection of auto shops, which were evicted in 2019.

“It’s taken perseverance in the belief that in New York City even the impossible is possible, impossible because we all know how many failed plans and false starts this corner of the world has seen,” Moya said Thursday during the City Council meeting. “We are breathing new life into the ‘valley of ashes,’ turning an underutilized and polluted corner of my neighborhood into a historic development project like no other city has seen before.”

While all council members present at the meeting voted in favor of the plan, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan — who represents the nearby Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside neighborhoods — opposed the ULURP application because the number of housing units was cut from the 5,000 originally proposed.

“This is a bad deal for New York City,” Krishnan said in a statement. “This stadium will not be paying property taxes. It will not be making payments in lieu of taxes. And it will pay almost nothing in rent over the next 50 years. And for what gain for our city? The project offers anemic job creation and an embarrassing absence of any meaningful community benefit.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation, Related Companies, Sterling Equities and Langan will build the stadium, housing and other sections of the plan. The developers, along with football club, closed earlier this year on one of the last chunks of land it needs for the project.

The development will be near Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, making the once desolate section of Queens into even more of a sports destination.

Not to mention plans by Mets and Point72 Asset Management owner Steve Cohen partnering with Hard Rock International to build a casino on an empty lot adjacent to Citi Field — one of the many competing parties for one of New York state’s three available downstate casino licenses.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.