Willets Point Task Force
Building on the February 2018 announcement of an all affordable first phase (“Phase 1A”) of development at Willets Point that will bring 1,100 units of affordable housing to approximately six acres of City-owned land, Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of a Task Force to identify community priorities and produce recommendations for the remainder of the 17 acres of the Special Willets Point District (the “District”). The Willets Point Task Force (the “Task Force”)–chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Francisco Moya–was a group of Queens stakeholders that represented local and state elected officials, Community Boards 3, 4, & 7, economic development groups, community-based organizations, and local civic associations.
Over four months, with one meeting per month, the Task Force set out to define the vision for the future of the 61-acre District and worked to identify community priorities and produce recommendations for the remaining 17 acres of City-owned land. The goals of the Task Force were to:
- Increase engagement and collaboration between the City and community partners
- Discuss priorities and align on a vision to inform future development of the District
At the final meeting, the Task Force, under the leadership of the Borough President and Councilmember, recommended that two (2) illustrative scenarios move forward for consideration for future development of the District. The overarching goals and priorities of these recommended scenarios include the following:
- Provide the necessary infrastructure to connect and meet the demand of new Willets Point development;
- Create a comprehensive environmental remediation program for the District;
- Incorporate municipal, educational, and health services and assets to serve the District and greater Queens;
- Provide housing options that reflect the diverse array of Queens communities, including a mix of affordable and market rate units; and
- Deliver active and passive open space with programming for the residents and visitors of Willets Point.
Meeting summaries and notes from each meeting can be found below:
- Goal: Provide an overview of the site history, previous planning efforts and public approvals, the Willets Point Design Guidelines and the Special Willets Point District zoning text, and site constraints.
- Objective: Discuss overall goals and priorities for future development.
- Outcome: Gathered stakeholder feedback on the needs and opportunities of the District and surrounding neighborhoods and generated preliminary ideas for the future of the District.
- Goal: Deep dive into existing conditions and constraints of the site, including an overview of market data.
- Objective: Develop an understanding of the high-level market conditions of the neighborhood and surrounding communities to understand current conditions and inform recommendations.
- Outcome: Discussed project priorities and considerations including various uses, public facilities and amenities, and phasing strategies.
- Goal: Begin to focus in on high level priorities and recommendations.
- Objective: Discuss project priorities in greater depth, including site design considerations, public facilities and amenities, and different combinations of land uses.
- Outcome: Developed preliminary guiding principles and recommendations to be further refined at the final meeting.
- Goal: Finalize priorities and recommendations for the future of the District.
- Objective: Continue a robust discussion of high-level priorities for future development, including establishing a regional identity and the need for infrastructure, remediation, and public facilities and amenities.
- Outcome: Developed a set of broad recommendations that will serve as a guide for future development of the District and inform strategy and negotiations with developers.
The following illustrative scenarios focus on the 17-acre City-owned portion of the District that could comprise the next phase of development following Phase 1A and will serve as a basis for discussions moving forward.
The first illustrative scenario would adhere to the original goal of the Special Willets Point District and create a true, high-density, mixed-use district. This illustrative scenario is primarily residential with a range of affordability levels, space for public facilities, local- and neighborhood-serving retail, programmed open space with active and passive uses, and on-site parking.
The second illustrative scenario would reimagine the Special Willets Point District as hub for a new soccer stadium, with seating for up to 25,000 fans. This option would also set aside space for public facilities, programmed open space with active and passive uses, with the remainder of the site set aside for residential with a range of affordability levels. Under this illustrative scenario, parking would be shared with Citi Field. This illustrative scenario would still include local- and neighborhood-serving retail, with larger mid-sized retail options surrounding the stadium that focus on restaurants, retail, and entertainment.