Queens, NY. Developer says No Wal-Mart, Never
Willets Point, a neighborhood within Corona, in the New York City borough of Queens, has been the target of many redevelopment dreams over the years. Several years ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to Willets Point as "another euphemism for blight." Bloomberg developed a plan in 2007 to replace the scrapyards and industrial sites of Willets Point with a sustainable and affordable mixed-use development including a convention center, thousands of new units of housing, almost two million square feet of retail, along with an elementary school, office space, new infrastructure, and 5,300 new jobs. For years the Willets Point redevelopment plan was mired in litgation.
This week, the Amsterdam News reported that the group putting together the Willets Point development had no plans to include a Wal-Mart, and never had plans to cut Wal-Mart in on the deal.
The statement from the Queens Development Group (QDG) came in response to an article in the New York Daily News that claimed Wal-Mart had been "quietly" lobbying city officials to be included in the massive project. But QDG told the Amsterdam News that their project near the Citi Field stadium was not about big box stores. One of the partners in QDG is Sterling Equities, one of whose owners also owns the New York Mets, which play at Citi Field in the Willets Point neighborhood.
"We have not had any talks with Wal-Mart about a location at Willets Point, and we have absolutely no intention of discussing this site with them," the QDG statement said. "There have been and will be no negotiations. They are simply not a part of our plan to build an enclosed retail and entertainment destination at Willets Point that will bring much-needed jobs and economic activity to the area and lead to the development of a new neighborhood."
The Amsterdam News interviewed Amy Traub as part of the Willets Point story. Traub is the author of a new study, "Not Made in America" which charges that Wal-Mart has helped destroy American manufacturing. Traub told the newspaper, "I think it's great that Wal-Mart is not being offered the site, because the company's entry into a new market depresses wages and eliminates more jobs than it creates. There's a tax burden associated with Wal-Mart as well. Wal-Mart employees often rely on Medicaid and other public benefits, since they can't afford the plan that Wal-Mart offers. That would affect the city when it comes to how many benefits they provide."
What you can do: Even though Wal-Mart has been pushed out of the Willets Point development, the retailer is reportedly still in discussions with one of the QDG partners, Related Companies, which is trying to pitch a Wal-Mart project for the East New York section of Brooklyn.
Readers are urged to email New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at:
with the following message:
"Dear Speaker Quinn,
Great News this week that the Queens Development Group has stated publicly that Wal-Mart has no place in its WIllets Point development. Any big box store at that location would undermine the land use goals of Brooklyn to encourage local businesses and neighborhood shopping.
I urge you now to let the Related Companies know that your office would not look kindly at a Wal-Mart proposal in East New York for the same reasons that residents and businesses did not want a Wal-Mart at Willets Point.
Big box stores do not fit into an urban footprint, and Wal-Mart is a form of economic dislocation, not a form of economic development. Wal-Mart creates no new jobs, it merely displaces jobs at existing merchants."