QUEENS — The City Council was expected to vote Wednesday afternoon on the multimillion dollar plan to transform industry-heavy Willets Point into a new retail and living destination, the developers said.
The plan to turn a heavily polluted portion of the Iron Triangle from a stretch of auto-body repair shops into a massive retail and residential destination was first proposed in 2008. The latest version of the plan will redevelop the area in phases, and was approved in August by the City Planning Commission.
The project, next to Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the National Tennis Center, is headed up by the Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Sterling Equities and the Related Companies.
It will be paid for with private and public dollars and will be developed in phases — with the first adding retail and public space, including a 200-room hotel and a movie theater.
Future phases will include 5,500 units of housing, with 35 percent of them affordable, and a new school that will add 1,000 new seats to the overcrowded district.
At a hearing in September, the president of the Economic Development Corporation, Kyle Kimball, compared the project to the redevelopment of 42nd Street in Manhattan, which took decades and faced similar land-use decisions and economic downturns.
But the business owners already working at Willets Point have protested the revitalization plan, saying it will destroy their livelihood.
In July, Marco Neira, who is in charge of a for-profit group jointly controlled by 52 auto body businesses in Willets Point, said the city doesn't care what happens to them.
"They take our business and our land, and give it to the rich people?" he said. "If we have to leave, where are we going to go?"
The EDC said they’ve reached out to every store owner involved with the first phase of development at least five times, and have provided job placement and offered classes through LaGuardia Community College.