New York City Council approves $3 billion Willets Point redevelopment plan

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The neighborhood around Citi Field will be getting a tremendous upgrade, as the "chop shops" will be torn up and replaced with commercial and residential space.

Earlier today, the New York City Council approved the long-in-the-works project to redevelop Willets Point by a count of 42 for, 3 against, and 1 abstention. The upgrade will be a sight to sore eyes for Mets fans (including Messrs. Simon and McShane), who for years have expressed their disdain towards the industrial warehouses and "chop shops" which line 126th St. and the surrounding area.

The estimated $3 billion plan is expected to take at least 15 years to complete, beginning with a site restoration that carries a targeted completion date of 2015. Once that is completed, the area where the Citi Field parking lot currently is will be replaced by a 2,500 vehicle parking structure, and eventually the Willets West mall—the sticking point for some City Council members—which has an assigned completion date of 2018. As the long-term plan progresses, the site will eventually see new entry ramps onto the Van Wyck Expressway, and beginning in 2025 the construction of as many as 5,820 residential units and a hotel.

The project is interesting to Mets fans for reasons unrelated to aesthetics. As the planning process moved forward, Sterling Equities, the land development group owned by Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, joined The Related Companies as project developers. This obviously means that the Mets will have a stake in the project, which the city has already earmarked or spent $400 million towards.

Assuming the Wilpons refinance their loan due and are still in control in the Mets in 2015, it should be interesting to watch the potential financial implications going forward from a project of this scale.

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