NYC breaks ground on largest affordable housing project in 40 Years

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willets point

New York Construction Report staff writer

Construction is underway on 880 new affordable homes in Willets Point, Queens ― the first phase of the city’s largest 100 percent affordable housing development in 40 years.

In partnership with the Queens Development Group (QDG), a joint venture formed by Related Companies and Sterling Equities, the groundbreaking marks the start of construction — more than one year ahead of schedule — for a project that will deliver the first of more than 2,500 affordable homes, about 35,000 sq. ft. of new public open space, and significant infrastructure upgrades.

The project will create about 14,200 construction jobs.

“Willets Point is a perfect example of just how transformative good planning can be,” said New York City planning director Dan Garodnick. “Starting with today’s groundbreaking, we’ll turn this corner of Queens into a truly dynamic neighborhood that will provide thousands of income-restricted homes, good-paying jobs, open space, and more for New Yorkers.

“That’s a big win that we can all be proud of.”

The groundbreaking is a historic milestone in the transformation of Willets Point — a neighborhood that will be anchored by a total of 2,500 new affordable homes, a 650-seat standalone public school, New York City’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium, over 100,000 square feet of public open space, a 250-room hotel, and neighborhood-serving ground-floor retail space that will create good-paying jobs for community residents.

Phase one includes two mid-rise buildings that will be all-electric, achieve LEED Gold certification, and comply with Local Law 97 through high-performance glazing, high-efficiency HVAC systems, an electric hot water plant, an insulated envelope, energy star appliances, and low-emission mobility options for residents, such as bike storage and electric vehicle charging.

Construction on the first 880 units is expected to be completed by the end of 2026, and 220 additional affordable homes set aside for low-income seniors are expected to break ground next in the Willets Point transformation.

The city and its development partner, QDG, have undertaken significant environmental remediation of the formerly contaminated soil, which has been completed across a majority of the project site as of July 2023.

While the first phase of housing construction is underway, the city and QDG have already commenced the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) certification process for the second phase of neighborhood transformation, which will bring an additional 1,400 units of affordable housing, the new hotel, and the soccer stadium that will be 100-percent privately financed and seat up to 25,000 spectators.

Infrastructure investments, including new streets, signage, sidewalks, curbs, trees, lights, draining, stormwater management, water main/hydrants, sewers, utilities, and will elevate the site out of the flood plains. Once complete, the Willets Point transformation will bring significant long-term economic opportunity to a community that has long been underserved.

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