After years of false starts and failed plans, we may have a proposal from New York City Mayor Eric Adams that might actually succeed, calling for a new privately financed NYCFC MLS stadium and affordable housing project in the Willets Point community in Queens.
Besides the NYCFC MLS stadium, the Willets Point development plan calls for 2,500 new affordable homes, the largest affordable, new construction housing project in New York City in 40 years, which will be constructed on an accelerated timeline. Developed with New York City Councilmember Francisco Moya, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and community members, the 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. It will be located close to Citi Field, home of the Mets.
The Willets Point area of Queen has been long discussed both as the site of a new NYCFC MLS stadium and an area ripe for development. Part of the area’s history was serving as New York City’s refuse grounds, the so-called “Valley of Ashes” made famous in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The development plan call for remediation of tainted soil as part of the construction process.
The entire project is projected by the city 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 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.
Partnering with the city: NYCFC and Queens Development Group (QDG), itself a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities. Related Companies is an international real-estate firm, while Sterling Equities is a real-estate investment firm launch by Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz that formerly owned the New York Mets and has since invested in other sports projects, such as UBS Arena at Belmont Park, via its Sterling Project Development subsidiary.
“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 via press release. “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.’”
“I’m incredibly proud and excited to announce a project like none other seen by this city or any city in this nation,” said Councilmember Francisco Moya via press release. “We have a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a brand-new neighborhood that will bring the largest 100-percent affordable housing project in the last 40 years, a new 650-seat elementary school, and a 100-percent privately financed professional stadium in New York City — right here in the most diverse place in the world: Queens. This is an investment that will support neighborhood kids’ futures, fuel our local economy, create a pipeline for local hires, and support our brothers and sisters in labor who have been the backbone of building this city. What started as a dream–when I was just a little boy playing soccer in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with my family who came here from Ecuador–will now be a reality for kids from Corona, who like me were born with a love of soccer in their veins. With this new neighborhood and stadium, we are building opportunities for the kids in my district and all over New York City to not just root for their local team but also to one day be able to don the jersey of their hometown club.”
“New York City Football Club is proud to stand with Mayor Adams, Councilmember Francisco Moya, and union brothers and sisters to announce our privately financed soccer-specific stadium in Queens,” said Marty Edelman, vice chairman, NYCFC, via press release. “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.”
“This is a game-changing moment, not just for Willets Point but for New York City, and we’re grateful to Mayor Adams for his leadership in prioritizing building the affordable housing our city needs,” said Jeff Blau, CEO, Related Companies; and Jeff Wilpon, Sterling Equities, via press release. “Willets Point is a prime example of what can be accomplished through public-private partnership, and together with the city, we will deliver on a transformative vision to bring 2,500 affordable homes to the heart of Queens.”
NYCFC plans to construct the privately financed, 25,000-seat soccer stadium with union labor, aiming to open it in 2027, following the 2026 FIFA World Cup competition that New York and New Jersey will help host. According to the city, the NYCFC MLS stadium represents a major opportunity to capitalize on professional soccer as a growing attraction that can bring investment and economic opportunities to New York City, as well as grow love of the sport to more New Yorkers.
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 remediation of the formerly contaminated soil on the Willets Point site, allowing construction of the first affordable homes to begin early.
Rendering courtesy City of New York.
This article originally appeared in the free Soccer Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here!
RELATED STORIES: Reports: NYCFC, NYC close to deal on new Flushing Meadows stadium; Poll: South Bronx Residents Favor Potential NYCFC Stadium; Bronx Reportedly in the Mix for New NYCFC Stadium; Club President: NYCFC is Still Searching for Stadium Site; Garber: NYCFC Continues to Search New York City for New Stadium; Report: NYCFC Stadium Pitched for Harlem River Yards Development