Related, Sterling Equities File For 880-Unit Willets Point Development
Sterling Equities, where former Mets owner Fred Wilpon is chairman, and Related, where Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is chairman, are seeking permits to build 881 units of affordable housing in Willets Point near Citi Field, The Real Deal reports.
The proposal calls for 12-story buildings with ample retail components. At 126-43 39th Ave., the developers plan 543 affordable units, 74K SF of retail space and a 186-space parking garage. Plans for the neighboring building, 126-55 39th Ave., include 347 units in addition to 43K SF of commercial space, 136 parking spaces and a 2K SF community facility.
The joint venture has yet to file plans for a third housing building that was part of the overall redevelopment plan for the area near the ballpark.
Willets Point has long been targeted for redevelopment because of its connectivity with the 7 subway train and the LIRR, but it has significant ground contamination from petroleum, affecting toxicity levels in its soil. Work was due to start on the development site in 2020, but environmental cleanup necessary prior to development did not start until June 2021, per TRD.
The Queens Borough Board approved the site’s redevelopment last year, clearing the way for developers to add 1,100 affordable residential units across three buildings, 25K SF of retail, an acre of public space, 300K SF of community space, 300 parking spaces and a 650-student public elementary school.
Queens has been the site of multiple contentious housing developments, where city council members have demanded higher ratios of affordable units than developers have proposed.
Council Member Tiffany Cabán recently voiced her approval for Halletts North, a 1,340-unit mixed-use development in Astoria’s northern reaches that would bring 350 permanently affordable units to the neighborhood.
Farther south, in Council Member Julie Won’s portion of Astoria, Innovation QNS developers Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Bedrock Real Estate Partners ran into the political opposition following community disapproval of the project. Won has since asked the developers to commit to funding 40% of units as affordable in addition to the 15% of affordable units that the city agreed to fund. A final hearing is slated for later this month.
Borough President Donovan Richards told Bisnow that affordable housing is desperately needed in Queens and he thinks council members should be more flexible with developers.
“I think you've got to look at the facts of how much affordable housing Astoria has produced over the course of the last decade, and it's near to zero,” he said. “We can't play a zero-sum game in Queens County when we are facing an affordability crisis of great magnitude.”