The redevelopment of Willets Point, Queens that includes a New York City FC soccer stadium has officially entered the public review process.
The club shared official word of this hugely important step in the stadium process along with some updated stadium renderings. The new renderings include an updated aerial view of the newly-redeveloped Willets Point area, a look at a pigeon-emblazoned stadium entrance area meant for NYCFC supporters, a view of the official team store, and another side view of the arena emblazoned with “CITC,” which likely has some connection to the City in the Community philanthropic arm of NYCFC.
This big official ULURP announcement quotes representatives from all of NYCFC’s major partners in Willets Point construction, all heralding the benefits of the huge redevelopment project that, in addition to NYCFC’s stadium, is set to include 1,500 units of affordable housing, a new public school, 40,000 square feet of new public open space, retail space, and more.
Notably, a statement from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. was included in the team’s big official Willets Point-related release. The Queens BP had publicly said he’d withhold approval of the NYCFC stadium unless Mayor Eric Adams intervened on behalf of street vendors who were recently displaced from Corona Plaza.
News came through earlier this morning that the Adams administration and Queens BP Richards Jr. had reached tentative agreement to return street vendors to Corona Plaza, so there appears to have been a quick resolution to a potential stadium stumbling block raised by one of the central figures in the ULURP review process.
And what a process ULURP is, one that can last over 200 days and goes through review steps that include local Queens Community Board 7, the Queens Borough President, the New York City Planning Commission, New York’s City Council, and the New York City Mayor’s office. All have the chance to make recommendations and insert political influence on the proposed development, so more twists and turns could be to come for the NYCFC stadium as it moves toward approval and eventual construction.
The reality of the NYCFC stadium project imminently entering public review became clear late last week when the Department of City Planning published the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project along with an updated batch of public documents related to the huge construction project. That cleared the way for the project’s certification into ULURP, the step required to officially kick off this now-ongoing public review.
Queens Community Board 7 is the next group set to engage with the Willets Point plan through the ULURP process. The board now has a 60-day window to review the Willets Point Phase 2 project, as it’s called, and hold a public hearing to get community feedback before making a recommendation to approve or disapprove of the development plan.
The community board, like the Queens Borough President, wants something in exchange for approving the stadium-related development: A new police precinct in the area. Community boards, and borough presidents, only have advisory roles in the ULURP process, but their approvals or disapprovals carry huge weight for projects of this nature.
It’ll be down to the small army of well-paid lobbyists City Football Group have assembled on NYCFC’s behalf to continue to smooth over the potential wrinkles that may emerge. The ULURP process likely won’t be finished until spring of 2024, and the projected stadium opening date remains set for 2027, so there is much still to be done before the stadium starts to rise.