[Photo courtesy of foto picchu/flickr]
The $3 billion Willets Point plan goes to the City Council tomorrow. There is now enough behind the scenes maneuvering to rival wheeling and dealing that goes on before a tax bill passes in Washington. Here's some of the latest:
1) The City Council vote is uncertain and seems to hinge on just how much land it looks like the city is going to have get by eminent domain. This, in turn, is why the city has been paying out the ass to buy up land. As it currently stands, the local council member representing Willets Point opposes the plan. By tradition, this can be a kiss of death. "As things stand right now, the city still hasn’t given us enough," he says. [NYT]
2) Speaking of which the Mayor is trying to "sweeten the deal" by nearly doubling the amount of affordable housing in the project to nearly 2,000. There would be 5,500 units of housing overall. Again, the local Councilman is quoted saying "At this point, we don't have a deal." [NYDN]
3) One land owner says he's "glad" he sold to the city and writes in today's Daily News: "The big landowners in Willets Point came around and said that the city was trying to steal the land...You get tired of this place. It's a disgrace. It's too dirty. It's filled with garbage and dust, and there are potholes everywhere. You can't keep anything in our shop clean. The area is filled with rats. If you put a piece of bread in the middle of Willets Point, a thousand rats would run out and attack it. There isn't a place like this anywhere else in New York City. The only people who come down here are people who don't want to pay too much to fix their cars." [NYDN]
4) The group representing landowners in Willets Point actually says the land isn't as toxic as the city claims. The city says is using the toxicity of the parcel as one of the reason it needs to buy the land and clean it up. But a statement from the WPIRA group says, in part: "...not enough testing has been performed to know what levels of contamination are present...Every industrial area in New York City, and many non-industrial areas, are likely to have the presence of various chemicals. What's important is not mere presence. A few molecules will not do any harm...The Willets Point area does not appear on the State Superfund, State Brownfields, or Federal Superfund lists – the official governmental lists of highly contaminated sites. And if the area were heavily contaminated, the City would not want to take title to it or be responsible for the possibly liability associated with such 'toxic" land.'" [CurbedWire Inbox]
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