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NEW YORK CITY-The Bloomberg administration reached an agreement Wednesday with City Council leaders on the often-contentious rezoning of Willets Point, a 62-acre brownfield in Queens. The council was scheduled to vote Thursday afternoon on the rezoning of Willets Point as well as another Queens-based project, the proposed Hunter’s Point South workforce housing development in Long Island City. However, the council had not yet voted on either measure by deadline.

At a news conference Wednesday announcing the Willets Point plan’s endorsement by City Council speaker Christine Quinn and council member Hiram Monserrate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “If the Council passes the rezoning, we can begin the process of turning this into New York’s first truly ‘green’ community development with buildings that use the latest energy-efficient technology, and eight acres of parks and open spaces that give New Yorkers new places to play. We think there will be a dynamic mix of retail and entertainment facilities, half-a-million square feet of office space, a new school, a hotel and a convention center–the city’s first, incidentally, outside of Manhattan.”

Combined, Bloomberg said, “these developments will create some 18,000 construction jobs, over 5,000 permanent jobs, generate $1.3 billion in direct city tax revenues, and produce an economic impact of at least $25 billion over 30 years.” In a statement issued on Thursday, Quinn said, “As we find ourselves in the midst of an economic downturn, I urge my fellow members to support responsible and visionary developments like Willets Point. As we confront such hard economic times, these important projects will create jobs, generate revenues and help keep our city moving forward.”

Bloomberg similarly stressed the importance of moving forward on the project despite budget constraints. “More than ever it’s critical we continue making these kinds of important investments in our neighborhoods and in our city as a whole,” he said at the conference. “And just because we are in the midst of an economic downturn, and we have to learn to do more with less, doesn’t mean that we can afford to walk away from our long term obligations. Our city made that mistake during the tough times in the 1970s and it was a near disastrous effect. We’re simply not going to make that mistake again.”

The agreement with Quinn and Monserrate follows the September approval of the Willets Point project by the New York City Planning Commission. Since last summer, the city has been working on deals with property owners to acquire land within the Willets Point area, much of which is given over to auto-repair shops.

If approved by the council, the Hunter’s Point South project would reportedly be the largest subsidized project in New York City since Starrett City opened in the 1970s. To be built on approximately 30 acres, the plan is intended to create 5,000 housing units, 60% of which would be affordable to middle-income families, according to a release. The plan would also contain a provision to create 500 units for lower-income families. In addition to housing, the project will include retail space, community and cultural facilities, new schools and a new continuous waterfront park, the release states.

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