CORONA — Small businesses and start-ups will have a home in and around the massive mall planned for Willets Point thanks to a deal with the developers and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
The incubator space will take up 13,000-square-feet on 126th Street and 5,000-square-feet inside the planned mall.
The space was negotiated with the developers as part of a $200 million deal to approve the transformative — and controversial — development at Willets Point, which was given the OK by the City Council earlier in October.
"It was important to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and important to the chamber that we have some local flavor at the mall and around the mall," said Jack Friedman, President of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
The retail incubator will allow small businesses to set up shop inside the revamped spaces, and business owners will also receive marketing and other assistance to help them compete with national chains.
Friedman envisions small, mom-and-pop stores that represent the diversity of Queens on display alongside a store like Macy's or another big retailer.
"You want to make sure you have a community, local flavor," he said.
"And you want to give companies who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to jump into a mall environment.
Another idea would be to have a food court featuring local restaurants — like Queens' own Pio Pio — that shows off the delicious cuisine throughout the borough, he said.
The incubator will be created within a year of the mall's completion, Friedman said, although exact dates aren't known.
He said the chamber will work with local groups throughout the planning of the incubator to help identify potential small businesses.