Willets Point (known locally as the “Iron Triangle”) has a long and gritty past. It is the infamous “valley of ashes” from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” And now it is becoming a mall.

Last week, the Bloomberg administration struck a deal with the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, a real estate firm affiliated with the New York Mets, to construct a one-million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex west of Citi Field. Called “Willets West,” city officials announced that an old parking lot adjacent to the stadium will be converted into a vertical shopping complex comprised of 200 stores, a movie theater, restaurants, entertainment venues and a 2,500-space parking garage. In addition, the developers are also planning to construct 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 2,500 housing units, 35% of which will be affordable; 900,000 square feet of street level retail; and 500,000 square feet of office space serving Queens-based businesses. A 280-room hotel and five acres of public space along 126th Street is also in the works.

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