Mayor Adams, Community Partners Break Ground on Willets Point Transformation, Largest Affordable Housing Project in 40 Years

Rendering of Willets Point affordable housing in Queens

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión, Jr., New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin, and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President & CEO Andrew Kimball today were joined by elected officials and community leaders to break ground on 880 new affordable homes in Willets Point, Queens ― the first phase of the city’s largest 100 percent affordable housing development in 40 years. In partnership with the Queens Development Group (QDG), a joint venture formed by Related Companies and Sterling Equities, the groundbreaking marks the start of construction — more than one year ahead of schedule — for a project that will deliver the first of more than 2,500 affordable homes, roughly 35,000 square feet of new public open space, and significant infrastructure upgrades. The project is projected to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact over the next 30 years, creating 1,550 permanent jobs and 14,200 construction jobs.

“What we are seeing in Willets Point is the future of New York City — a future in which all New Yorkers can afford to live in a safe apartment that is close to a good school, good-paying jobs, outdoor space, and great public transportation,” said Mayor Adams. “Today, we are breaking ground on a once-in-a-generation project and building the largest 100 percent affordable housing development in our city in 40 years. This is all part of our administration’s commitment to tackling our city’s housing and affordability crisis to ensure no child should have to feel the way I did while growing up on the edge of homelessness. I want to thank Borough President Richards, Councilmember Moya, and Queens Community Board 7 for helping us break barriers and cut every extra inch of red tape to build more affordable housing for New Yorkers.”

“Over the decades, many plans for the transformation of Willets Point have been developed but the Adams administration is proud to celebrate what has, for too long, been elusive: rapidly turning those plans into actions that benefit New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “This groundbreaking delivers on our promise to accelerate the creation of affordable, new homes on the site as we move full-speed ahead in building a whole new neighborhood with acres of open space, thousands of job opportunities, new retail amenities, major infrastructure upgrades, and a state-of-the art soccer stadium. I want to thank NYCEDC, HPD, and HDC, as well as our partners at Queens Development Group for working tirelessly to finally turn this generations-long dream into reality.”

“With the groundbreaking of Willets Point, we celebrate many overlapping wins: the creation of affordable housing and retail, essentially the delivery of a brand-new neighborhood in New York with affordability at its center; the shoring up of an area in the crosshairs of climate change; and the collaboration of every level of government, along with the private sector, to make it all possible,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This is a model of economic development, urban planning, and infrastructural preparedness that we will be able to take lessons from for a long time.”

“Breaking ground on the largest 100 percent affordable housing development in the past 40 years at Willets Point captures the spirit of our administration’s commitment to making the city more affordable and building new strong communities," said HPD Commissioner Carrión Jr. "This historic milestone goes beyond just construction; it represents our dedication to creating and supporting vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods — places that foster long-term economic opportunities and welcome families from all backgrounds for generations to come right here in ‘The World’s Borough.’"

“This development will be a game changer for the Willets Point community, with the creation of nearly 900 new affordable homes and retail space that will stimulate economic activity,” said HDC President Enderlin. “Thank you to all our colleagues involved in this transformative effort to deliver much-needed affordable housing and economic opportunity to the residents of Queens.”

“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony is a historic moment for Queens as we begin the construction of the Willets Point transformation and signal the end of the ‘Valley of Ashes,’” said NYCEDC President and CEO Kimball. “In the true spirit of Mayor Adams’ ‘Get Stuff Done,’ we are beginning the development of the largest affordable homes project in a generation one year ahead of schedule, which shows how committed this administration is to addressing affordable housing. We are grateful to all of our city and elected officials for their continuous support, and especially grateful to our development partners QDG for their tremendous work and dedication on this development.”

“Willets Point is a perfect example of just how transformative good planning can be,” said New York City Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick. “Starting with today’s groundbreaking, we’ll turn this corner of Queens into a truly dynamic neighborhood that will provide thousands of income-restricted homes, good-paying jobs, open space, and more for New Yorkers. That’s a big win that we can all be proud of.”

“A just transition must not leave anyone behind, and the people in these new, affordable homes will live in all-electric, energy-efficient buildings that help the city and state advance their world-leading climate goals,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice Executive Director Elijah Hutchinson. “The transformation of Willets Point will also create improved flooding infrastructure to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, and it will expand open space for Queens residents who need areas for community-building, connection, and play.”

“Today, we’re solidifying the mayor’s commitment to build 100 percent affordable homes on the first six acres of development at Willets Point for New Yorkers, and as part of the redevelopment, the SCA will build a state-of-the-art school with approximately 650 seats for the children who will call Willets Point and the surrounding communities home,” said New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) President and CEO Nina Kubota. “These 650 seats are part of the more than 24,000 seats we are adding to Queens as part of our current and upcoming capital plans.”

Today’s groundbreaking marks a historic milestone in the transformation of Willets Point — a neighborhood that will be anchored by a total of 2,500 new affordable homes, a 650-seat standalone public school, New York City’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium, over 100,000 square feet of public open space, a 250-room hotel, and neighborhood-serving ground-floor retail space that will create good-paying jobs for community residents. The first phase of Willets Point features two mid-rise buildings that will include 880 units of 100 percent affordable homes, with 40 percent of the units at or below 60 percent of area median income, including 15 percent of the units set aside for households for those formerly experiencing homelessness. Amenities will include a landscaped inner courtyard, in-building laundry, tenant lounge space with access to outdoor terraces, bicycle storage, ground floor retail shops, and other community facilities. Additionally, the buildings will be all-electric, achieve LEED Gold certification, and comply with Local Law 97 through high-performance glazing, high-efficiency HVAC systems, an electric hot water plant, an insulated envelope, energy star appliances, and low-emission mobility options for residents, such as bike storage and electric vehicle charging.

Construction on the first 880 units is expected to be completed by the end of 2026, and 220 additional affordable homes set aside for low-income seniors are expected to break ground next in the Willets Point transformation. The city and its development partner, QDG, have undertaken significant environmental remediation of the formerly contaminated soil, which has been completed across a majority of the project site as of July 2023. Wells Fargo’s Community Lending and Investment arranged a total of $360 million in financing for phase one of the project with a $236.5 million construction loan and $123.5 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investment.

While the first phase of housing construction is underway, the city and QDG have already commenced the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) certification process for the second phase of neighborhood transformation, which will bring an additional 1,400 units of affordable housing, the new hotel, and the soccer stadium that will be 100-percent privately financed and seat up to 25,000 spectators.

The neighborhood will additionally feature infrastructure investments, including new streets, signage, sidewalks, curbs, trees, lights, draining, stormwater management, water main/hydrants, sewers, utilities, and will elevate the site out of the flood plains. Once complete, the Willets Point transformation will bring significant long-term economic opportunity to a community that has long been underserved.

“As I’ve emphasized from the beginning, the housing development at Willets Point remains our top priority. Today’s groundbreaking reaffirms that commitment and represents a crucial step in addressing the current housing crisis in our city,” said New York City Councilmember Francisco Moya. “With the historic area median income levels I secured in 2018, units will be available for rent from a range below 30 percent of the area median income, with a majority falling under 80 percent. Some of the housing will be reserved for formerly homeless people, and the project also includes 220 apartments reserved for seniors. This project stands as the most significant fully affordable housing initiative in four decades, and it’s only the beginning. As we progress through the phase two ULURP, we will complete the job we’ve started, establishing a new affordable neighborhood at Willets Point.”

“Today’s groundbreaking is a major step forward toward making housing in our city more affordable,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Phase one of the Willets Point project presents an incredible opportunity to address our affordable housing crisis by building out hundreds of critically-needed units, including apartments set aside for formerly homeless New Yorkers looking to get back on their feet. I’m thrilled we are moving ahead with this bold new vision for revitalizing a part of our borough that has immense potential but has been neglected for far too long.”

“It was nearly one hundred years ago that F. Scott Fitzgerald described Willets Point,” said New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “This is the start of a transformation from a desolate plot of land into homes for people with limited income, an important public/private partnership that will give people hope for the future.”

“This groundbreaking is a major step in the transformation of Willets Point and marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing commitment to address the housing crisis for so many of our fellow New Yorkers,” said New York City Councilmember Sandra Ung. “Once complete, these 880 affordable units will directly benefit my constituents in nearby Flushing, many of them hardworking immigrants who have faced the daunting challenge of navigating an increasingly expensive housing market. I want to commend the Adams administration for its commitment to creating more housing in Queens with the aim of addressing the affordability crisis faced by residents across New York City.”

“Wells Fargo is proud to partner with The Related Companies, Sterling Equities, and the City of New York, to help develop one of the largest affordable housing projects in New York City in the past 40 years,” said Alan Wiener, vice chairman of commercial real estate, Wells Fargo. “By leveraging our debt and equity platforms, we are honored to be part of a project that has the power to change lives, and one that will be a game-changer for thousands of families in Queens for generations to come.

“Breaking ground on the first affordable housing units at Willets Point is a milestone that will both define and secure our city’s future. We are grateful to our partners, led by Mayor Adams, EDC, HPD, and the entire administration. Together, we are transforming this neighborhood into a community that thousands of families will call home for generations to come,” said Jeff Blau, CEO, Related Companies, and Gregory Katz, partner, Sterling Equities, on behalf of Queens Development Group. “Willets Point is the ultimate example of what happens when public-private partnerships buckle down, work hard, and come up with solutions to solve the critical issues facing our city.”

“Today’s groundbreaking for phase one of the larger Willets Point project is an important step in fortifying this community's future,” said Brad Sims, CEO, New York City Football Club. “We’re proud to be part of a development that will bring much-needed affordable housing to Queens, create a vibrant Willets Point community, and serve the needs of thousands of New Yorkers.”

“The transformation of Willets Point represents an incredible opportunity for Queens and our entire city,” said Tom Grech, president and CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to be here alongside Mayor Adams and his team to break ground on a historic investment in much-needed affordable housing and are thrilled that the project is one year ahead of schedule! We look forward to continuing to work with the Adams administration, NYCEDC, HPD, HDC, and others to further support this important project that will create jobs and catalyze economic activity that lifts up local businesses.”

“We are excited to see 15 years of everyone’s hard work come to fruition,” said Chuck Apelian, vice chairman, Queens Community Board 7. “A vibrant new community that will include 2,500 housing units that are 100 percent affordable, local retail, a new elementary school, a soccer stadium, and a hotel will rise from the remediated ashes of the former Willets Point junkyards.”

“The Willet’s Point project illustrates the hidden opportunities for new affordable housing and community facilities in the vast parking lots that dot the city,” said Nicholas Dagen Bloom, professor, urban policy and planning, Hunter College. “Projects like this could become a building block in a more equitable and livable city that puts families first.”