Community Board 7’s vote two weeks ago to approve by a narrow margin the new expanded Willets Point plan further sealed the Iron Triangle’s fate. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now in a hurry to get it moving before his term ends. However, the next mayor will inherit all the headaches going forward. There will be many.
The city got zero interest from developers for the original 62-acre site alone. Now the developers claim they need a huge mall as an economic engine to fund the rest of the project.
To me, the whole plan seems like folly. Retailers and malls like Queens Center rely mostly on walk-in pedestrian traffic for success. There will be no mass walk-in traffic in isolated Willets Point because there aren’t any adjacent apartment buildings. The housing to be built there would have only a minor impact on the economics of the area.
If I was a retailer, I wouldn’t gamble on putting a store in this area due to such limited access with no pedestrian traffic...and the smell of Flushing Bay when the tide is out.
Willets Point was never meant to be a high-traffic area. That’s why roads go over and around the area. It was a swamp, an ash dump, and a parking lot for the 1939 World’s Fair. It was a no-man’s land where nobody wanted to locate except for the limited industry and car parts shops that settled there in the 1950s.
The city has never given them good roads, sewers, or the sidewalks they should have gotten for the millions of dollars they’ve paid in taxes over the years. Shame on the city.
This is a perfect example of “if we build it, they’ll come” mentality. I bet they won’t. That’s why I voted against the project as a member of Community Board 7.