Willets Point Group Hunkers Down Despite Scheduled Eviction

Willets Point auto shop owners say they're not leaving until the city helps secure they're new location. (Photo by Cristina Schreil, via Queens Chronicle)

Willets Point auto shop owners say they’re not leaving until the city helps secure they’re new location. (Photo by Cristina Schreil, via Queens Chronicle)

Despite a scheduled June 1 eviction as part of a $5.8 million settlement brokered with the city, Sunset Cooperative, a group of auto shop owners from Willets Point, now say they’re not leaving until progress is made on building permits and construction at their new Bronx location, media outlets in Queens report.

Madina Toure at Times Ledger gives some context: 

The evictions are part of the first phase of the $3 billion Willets Point Development Plan, which includes a megamall to be built on parkland, a hotel, mixed-income housing, community facilities and a convention center.

The court-ordered agreement specified that the EDC [Economic Development Corporation] would pay $4.8 million and the Queens Development Group, the site developers, would provide $960,000 for their relocation and the renovation of the facility. The Sunrise Co-op was expected to contribute $143,000 and leave the site by June 1.

An EDC spokeswoman said the agreement was approved by the State Supreme Court, city comptroller, EDC’s board and each member of Sunrise Co-op and that the June 1 vacate date was clear from the beginning. She pointed out that the Sunrise group had asked to manage the construction work.

Cristina Schreil writes in Queens Chronicle about what the cooperative’s leaders say is needed:

Sunrise leaders said at a press conference at JAC Global Corp. on 37th Avenue that they want three or four more months to conduct business while their new site, at 1080 Leggett Ave. in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, is approved, fully constructed and made ready to be moved into.

Marco Neira, president of Sunrise, said that city Department of Buildings paperwork that would allow them to occupy the space has stalled and that city officials, namely de Blasio, have the power to expedite the process, but haven’t.

(…)

Pedro Estevez, president of the United Auto Merchants Association, said he’s an expert in licensing and permits and believes there is “stonewalling” from the DOB, which he claims is “in cahoots” with the Bronx borough government, which wants to “chase them out of the city.”

“The Mayor of New York had the authority to tell the Department of Buildings, give them a letter of no objection,” Estevez said. “But if you don’t give them their permits to bring this up to code, how are they going to do it? … We are hardworking people over here that deserve an opportunity to drive instead of strive.”

But the break in the agreement caused by not being vacated by June 1 could subject the cooperative to whatever penalties were agreed upon in March.

Read more about at Times Ledger and Queens Chronicle on the latest update to the ongoing saga of the Willets Point Development Plan.

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