40 to 60 businesses—mostly auto body and repair shops—have signed a lease to relocate from Willets Point in Queens to Hunts Point in the Bronx, the Journal reports. The move helps to make way for the city's $3 billion Willets Point Redevelopment plan, which includes 2,500 units of housing (35 percent affordable) and a giant mall, as the area will be left almost empty. Counting this group, around two thirds of its roughly 130 businesses have already received benefits to relocate.
The businesses that just signed the lease, which call themselves the Sunrise Cooperative, will be heading up to 1080 Leggett Avenue, a former warehouse in the Bronx. They are the largest such group to agree to vacate Willets Point and will be eligible for $2 million of the $3 million that the city has set aside to help with relocation. The city hopes to have the area mostly vacated by spring, although with the 50 or so most stubborn businesses remaining, that may prove to be a challenge, especially if the relocation money gets used up. The auto body shops worry that they will struggle in new locations, unable to bring their client base with them, and also complain that the city has not been doing a good enough job of helping them to find suitable new places to move to. Meanwhile, many of the auto body shop owners are unhappy about the $43 million in tax breaks that developers are getting to transform the area and a group is still suing the city claiming that the development is being built illegally on parkland.
· Willets Point Shops Ink Deal [WSJ]
· Willets Point coverage [Curbed]
Photo by Nathan Kesinger