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Willets Point megaproject in Queens is back on, with a focus on affordable housing

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The de Blasio administration is restarting the stalled development, and there’s no mall in this iteration

In the foreground is an empty lot. In the distance is a sports stadium. Max Touhey

The dormant Willets Point redevelopment plan near Citi Field, in Queens, is back on, the New York Times reports. After a New York Court of Appeals decision threatened to derail the project completely last summer, the de Blasio administration has now brought the various warring parties back to the drawing board.

So far, they’ve come to an agreement on at least one section of the megaproject. That section will lead to the creation of 1,100 affordable apartments for low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers, according to the Times. This section, located along Willets Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, will also see the development of retail, a school, and publicly-accessible open space.

The most contentious aspect of this plan—first imagined under the Bloomberg administration—a shopping mall, is no more. What will rise in place of that 200-store behemoth is yet to be decided, but whatever takes its place will be decided upon by a task force comprised of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council member Francisco Moya, and the de Blasio administration.

The developers behind the project will remain the same: Related Companies and the owners of the New York Mets. Originally the city intended the land to have some 1,900 units of affordable housing, but instead decided to go with a project that would include a shopping mall, and 2,500 units of housing, including 875 affordable apartments. However, the apartments were scheduled to be built after the mall, which angered local residents and elected officials, and ultimately led to a lawsuit.

A judge decided last summer that the shopping mall portion of the development could not move forward because it was proposed for land designated as park space, and as such needed state approval.

Many of the hundreds of auto repair shops that used to dot this area have already been cleared out for the project; this time around though, the de Blasio administration is prioritizing the construction of affordable housing before anything else.