It's a familiar story: local residents are speaking out against a plan to bring a new sports arena to their neighborhood. But instead of the middle of Brooklyn, this is the biggest park in Queens. And instead of one NBA arena, it's two sports arenas. The projects, an 8,000-seat U.S. Tennis Association stadium and a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium, are separate, but they are both located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park near Citi Field. Add to that the 1-million-square-foot Willets Point retail mall, and you have a plan that's drawing more and more opposition, reports the Journal. Community groups and City Council member Julissa Ferreras say that the proposals are taking away green park space without considering the affects construction and increased traffic will have on the area. Bloomberg reps counter that the projects will revive the area, bringing jobs and economic activity.
The Willets Point plan underwent the public review process in 2008, but it was just recently revised. Like the Barclays Center, the promised affordable housing has already been pushed back. The tennis arena, a new addition to the National Tennis Center, will go through a review this fall, and the MLS stadium is still trying to work out a deal with the city. The stadium developers have already made promises to the community: refurbished soccer fields, upgrades to the park area, and "minimize disruption."
All of the plans are a ways away from even breaking ground, but clearly the local fight is picking up steam. Will the people have Queens have more power than the anti-Barclays Brooklynites?
· Sports Plan Faces Fight [WSJ]
· Another Pro Sports Venue for Flushing Meadows? [Curbed]
· Surprise! Affordable Housing in Big City Projects Gets Delayed [Curbed]
· City Officially Reveals Redevelopment Plan for Willets Point [Curbed]
Map graphic via WSJ