News & Politics

At Willets Point, Queens, a massive housing project breaks ground

The former industrial area will become a new neighborhood and center around a new soccer stadium.

Construction is officially underway on the first new homes of a massive development project in Willets Point

Construction is officially underway on the first new homes of a massive development project in Willets Point Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Developers broke ground Wednesday on the first phase of a sweeping mixed use development project in Willets Point, Queens, that’ll eventually bring a professional soccer stadium and a slew of affordable housing to the area.

“It’s reshaping this entire community and what we expect,” Adams said at a ceremony marking the occasion Wednesday morning. “For many years this was joked to be the Iron Triangle or the Valley of the Ashes. We are now going to see a vital community come about right here.” A yellow banner with the words “housing is the goal” was slung behind him. He was joined by a group of other elected officials, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and City Council Member Francisco Moya – both of whom played key roles in shaping the plan. 

The project is breaking ground as New Yorkers struggle with a housing crisis. Housing costs continue to rise in New York as the Legislature failed to make significant progress on housing during the 2023 legislative session. On the city level however, Adams has introduced a massive overhaul on how the city approaches development. Several mixed-use development projects have moved forward under his administration, including Innovation QNS in Astoria and plans for Throggs Neck in the Bronx, and Halletts Point in Queens. 

The privately financed soccer stadium, a long-awaited permanent home for the New York City Football Club, is intended to be the focal point of a sweeping mixed-use development project in Willets Point that’s expected to transform the industrial waterfront into a new neighborhood complete with a school and acres of public space. With progress one year ahead of schedule, Wednesday’s ceremony marked construction beginning on the first 880 units of affordable housing. Another 220 affordable housing units set aside for low-income seniors are expected to break ground next. More than 2,500 affordable homes in total are expected under the plan, making the project the city’s largest development of entirely affordable housing in 40 years. 

Wednesday’s groundbreaking comes on the heels of a public hearing earlier this month in which Queens Community Board 7 voted to advance phase two of the project, which includes the soccer stadium component and additional housing. Richards will still need to give recommendations before the plan can move forward for City Council, Adams administration, and City Planning Commission consideration. 

The landMultiple mayoral administrations have attempted and failed to redevelop Willets Point over the years. It wasn’t until Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to rope a stronger affordable housing component into discussions that things began moving forward. Phase one was approved in fall 2022. 

“We may be putting the shovel in the ground, but there were those before me who understood how important it was to do something here at Willets Point,” Adams said, acknowledging that deep history.