Willets Point round-up: Negotiations, Bono Sawdust, Olaya and more

Things have certainly cooled off since last month’s City Council vote to approve the Willets Point redevelopment.  I’d like to be posting more, but to be honest, there has not been a lot to post on. I’ve also been out of the office since Tuesday, which hasn’t helped matters.

At any rate, here is a roundup of what’s come to my attention in recent weeks.

The Economic Development Corp. said this week there have been no new Willets Point property acquisition deals made since the vote, but negotiations are ongoing. Most members of the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association who have not signed deals have declined media comment since the vote passed, but sources close to the group said the vast majority remain at the table with the city.

Bono Sawdust and Supply Co., which has been arguably the most defiant critic of the city plan, has made contact with the Institute of Justice — a national legal advocacy firm most famous for representing Susette Kelo in the infamous Kelo vs. New London case.

Elsewhere, Arturo Olaya and the Willets Point Defense Committee are hoping to meet with the EDC to discuss additional funding for relocation in the coming week.

LaGuardia Community College, the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association each have said they intend to begin their workforce retraining programs next month.  Cornerstone Realty Group, hired by the city to conduct no-fee relocation services for the tenant businesses at Willets Point, also said they hope to begin offering services in the coming weeks.  As this occurs, I will keep you updated.

I’m working on a more in-depth story regarding the Bono family’s plans at Willets Point as well as a piece on how the city’s last minute deal with House of Spices, Tully Construction, and Fodera Foods will affect the project long-term, so stay tuned for those.

Finally, Michael D.D. White of Noticing New York has put together an exhaustive look at the Willets Point issue, compiling coverage from the Iron Triangle Tracker and others over the course of the last several months.  It’s lengthy but certainly worth a read if you have some time.  Check it out here.

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