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New Queens Soccer Stadium, Mixed With Housing Could be a Winning Plan

NEW YORK—New York City Mayor Eric Adams unveiled his administration’s vision for the next phase of the transformation of the Willets Point community in Queens on Nov. 16, bringing the first soccer-specific stadium to the city.

Through a new partnership with New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and Queens Development Group (QDG)—a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities—Willets Point will be anchored by 2,500 new affordable homes, the largest 100% affordable, new-construction housing project in New York City in 40 years, which will be constructed on an accelerated timeline.

Donovan Richards and other community members, Mayor Adams’ plan will also bring New York City’s first soccer-specific stadium to Willets Point along with over 40,000 square feet of public open space, a 250-key hotel and neighborhood-serving, ground-floor retail shops that will create good-paying jobs for community residents. The soccer stadium is projected to cost $780 million to build.

Conceptual renderings of redevelopment for Willets Point. CREDIT: S9 ARCHITECTURE

This historic plan will bring significant long-term economic opportunity to a community that has long been underserved. The entire project is expected to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact over the next 30 years, creating 1,550 permanent jobs and 14,200 construction jobs. With the creation of a new soccer stadium, Willets Point will become the city’s premier sports hub, with the New York Mets’ Citi Field and U.S. Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center both also within walking distance of the MTA’s Mets-Willets Point subway and LIRR station. More information on the project is available online.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a brand-new neighborhood, a Willets Point that offers real opportunity for working people and all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “Our plan will deliver 2,500 affordable homes—New York City’s largest fully affordable housing project in decades. And with a fully privately financed soccer stadium, a hotel, and local retail, we will create not only homes but also quality jobs, $6 billion in economic activity, and a true pathway to the middle class. This is what it means to build a ‘City of Yes.’”

After bringing New York City its first professional championship in a decade, NYCFC will finally now have a home stadium of their own. NYCFC plans to construct the privately financed, 25,000-seat soccer stadium with union labor, aiming to open it in 2027—following the highly anticipated 2026 FIFA World Cup™ that New York and New Jersey will help host.

The 2,500, 100-percent affordable homes will cover seven buildings—including one with 220 homes for low-income seniors—with construction on the first buildings set to begin in 2023, one year ahead of the original timeline. Additionally, QDG will participate in HireNYC, a city program that connects local residents to jobs. They will seek to achieve the highest standards of environmental sustainability through either LEED Gold U.S. Green Building Council certification or Enterprise Green Communities.

The Phase 2 plan builds on Phase 1 of the city’s development in the community, which includes the first 1,100 of the 2,500 total affordable homes as well as a new 650-seat standalone public school, new public open space, and significant infrastructure investment. QDG has undertaken significant remediation of the formerly contaminated soil on the Willets Point site, allowing construction of the first affordable homes to begin early.

“DEP is proud to be a part of the transformative vision that Mayor Adams has put forth for Willets Point,” said Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “We will be working with our project partners to build the sufficient water and sewer infrastructure needed to serve the new affordable housing, hotel, and soccer stadium. This historic development plan will create an exciting new future for the Queens community.”

The proposal was first presented in 2018 by the Willets Point Task Force, a group of Queens stakeholders represented by state and local elected officials; Community Boards 3, 4, and 7; economic development groups; community-based organizations; and local civic associations. Over four months, the task force identified community priorities and produced recommendations for the city-owned land, including a scenario that reimagined the Special Willets Point District as a hub for a new soccer stadium with public facilities, programmed open space with active and passive uses, and new homes at a range of affordability levels.

The significant infrastructure investment for this project will include additional environmental cleanup—supplementing the ongoing remediation work—as well as installation of new storm and sanitary sewers, reconstruction of streets, and improvements to the existing streetscape. As with Phase 1, this next phase of the Willets Point transformation will need to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process—including environmental review—and the New York City Public Design Commission. The ULURP process is expected to start by the end of 2023.

New York City Football Club was the 2021 Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup champions. Marty Edelman, vice chairman of the club, said NYCFC, “Our club has been investing in New York City for over a decade, and we are eager to invest these funds to help build a new community for our First Team, our dedicated fans, and our great city.”

A host of construction and organized labor organizations praised the Willets Point plan.

“Not only will a new soccer stadium at Willets Point become a cultural and economic hub for generations to come, but this project will also immediately benefit the lives of thousands of hard-working New Yorkers with the good-paying union construction jobs it will create,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

“As our city continues to rebound from the economic challenges of COVID, this project will put union members to work while building a whole new, completely affordable community where our members can afford to live,” said Kyle Bragg, president, 32BJ SEIU. “The 2,500 units of affordable housing will be transformative for New York. Our members need good jobs, our members need housing, and our members are going to be excited to watch championship soccer right here in Queens. The Willets Point project has it all.”

“With thousands of union construction jobs, a new privately funded stadium, new schools being built, and infrastructure projects, the Willets Point project will not only revitalize an important section of Queens, but it will also drive the long-term economic growth we need in New York City,” said Mike Prohaska, business manager, Mason Tenders District Council/Local 79.

“Our members are excited to be a vital part of creating a privately funded stadium, especially because it includes new schools and better infrastructure for Queens,” said Joseph Azzopardi, business manager and secretary-treasurer, District Council 9, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. “As the city continues its recovery, it is important to make sure New York continues to build for the future, to build smart projects that create new, good-paying jobs. We are ready to get to work and build something New York will be proud of for years to come.”

“The 20,000 strong New York City District Council of Carpenters is proud to support this visionary project that will create thousands of good-paying union jobs in New York City, in addition to historic investments in affordable housing, infrastructure, and education,” said Joseph Geiger, executive secretary-treasurer, New York City District Council of Carpenters. “The stadium and surrounding development will serve not only as a world-class economic and cultural attraction, but also as a reminder of Mayor Eric Adams and Councilmember Francisco Moya’s commitment to the smart policies needed to make New York City affordable for the middle class once again.”

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