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Mayor breaks ground on massive affordable housing development at Willets Point

Dec. 20, 2023 By Aidan Graham and Christian Murray

Mayor Eric Adams, flanked by prominent community leaders, gathered in Willets Point Wednesday to mark the groundbreaking of a massive new affordable housing complex slated to go up near Citi Field.

The project, located at 38-21 Seaver Way, will provide 880 apartments, representing the first phase of a plan that aims to bring 2,500 below-market-rate apartments to Willets Point in the years ahead. The plan represents the city’s largest development of entirely affordable units in four decades, Adams said.

“We are breaking ground on a once-in-a-generation project and building the largest 100% affordable housing development in our city in 40 years,” the mayor said. “What we are seeing in Willets Point is the future of New York City — a future in which all New Yorkers can afford to live in a safe apartment that is close to a good school, good-paying jobs, outdoor space, and great public transportation.”

“Phase One” of the Willets Point’s project, which is expected to be completed in 2026, includes two apartment buildings, and will serve as the anchor of the larger plan to transform the area with a deluge of housing, along with a professional soccer stadium, a new public school, 22,000 square feet of retail space, and 30,000 square feet of outdoor communal areas.

Notably, Phase One allocates approximately 15% of the units for formerly homeless New Yorkers and designates 40% for individuals with an annual income below 60% of the area median income, making these residences “deeply affordable.”

“Phase one of the Willets Point project presents a remarkable opportunity to confront our affordable housing crisis head-on by constructing hundreds of urgently needed units, including homes set aside for formerly homeless New Yorkers seeking to rebuild their lives,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.

Local leaders anticipate the Willets Point project will create 1,500 permanent jobs in addition to 14,200 construction jobs, providing a significant boost to the local economy.

A rendering of the proposed plan to transform Willets Point. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

The project’s proximity to Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, positions it as a transformative force that will reshape the industrial waterfront into a thriving community tailored to the needs of lower-income New Yorkers, said Chuck Apelian, Land Use Chair for Queens Community Board 7.

“We envision a vibrant new community comprising 2,500 housing units, all 100% affordable, complemented by local retail, a new elementary school, a soccer stadium, and a hotel—all emerging from the rejuvenated grounds of the former Willets Point junkyards,” Apelian said.

Subject to approval by the City Planning Commission and the City Council, which is highly anticipated, Phase Two of the project promises an additional 1,400 units of affordable housing, alongside a privately-funded $780 million soccer stadium. The stadium, boasting 25,000 planned seats, will serve as the permanent home of New York City FC, a Major League Soccer club founded in 2015, which has predominantly played its home games at Yankee Stadium.

Brad Sims, the CEO of NYCFC, expressed his enthusiasm for the plan, stating: “Today’s groundbreaking for phase one of the larger Willets Point project marks a pivotal step in fortifying the future of this community. We take pride in being part of a development that will deliver much-needed affordable housing to Queens, foster a vibrant Willets Point community, and cater to the needs of thousands of New Yorkers.”

The proposed stadium will be located near Citi Field, in close proximity to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the U.S. Open.

Community Board 7 has approved Phase Two of the project as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). It now proceeds to the Borough President’s office for an advisory opinion before advancing to the City Planning Commission and the City Council for official votes.

Local Council Member Francisco Moya is an advocate of the plan.

“This project represents the most significant fully affordable housing endeavor in four decades, and it’s only the beginning. As we navigate through the phase two ULURP process, we will bring to fruition the vision of establishing a new affordable neighborhood at Willets Point,” Moya said.

Local leaders break ground on the affordable housing development, which marks the beginning of “Phase One” of the plan to transform Willets Point.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

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