The New York City Economic Development Corporation recently released a Request for Qualifications to identify developers for the first stage of the Willets Point District, a 62-acre district in northeastern Queens which is proposed to become one of the city’s first green communities, with housing, retail, community space and other uses. NYCEDC will then issue one or more Targeted Requests for Proposals to selected firms responding to this RFQ.

“The release of this RFQ once again moves the Willets Point project, one of the largest in our borough’s history, another step forward and closer to reality,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

Additionally, the city continues to be successful in its commitment to acquire privately-owned property in Willets Point by negotiated acquisition, recently acquiring three additional parcels from private owners in Willets Point totaling 65,480 sq ft. The acquisition agreements are with Best Future Land, LLC for 37,500 sq ft of property, Dolly Benigi for 16,000 sq ft, and Zak Plaza LLC, for 11,980 sq ft. To date, the city has reached acquisition agreements with about 20 land owners, accounting for about 70 percent of the privately-held property in the First Development Area.

“We have now succeeded in reaching fair, negotiated agreements with Willets Point land owners accounting for the majority of privately held property in the district,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “These recent acquisitions and the release of this RFQ are indicative of the progress we are making in our efforts to transform the blighted Willets Point peninsula into an attractive community where thousands of New Yorkers will want to live, work and visit.”

The maximum development for Willets Point includes 98,000 sq ft of destination and entertainment retail; 2,000 units of mixed income housing; 500,000 sq ft of office space; 400 hotel rooms; a school; and open space and parking. The city is contemplating moving forward with a staged development strategy for this area that will first focus on the southwest portion of the district that includes 18 acres of development area and streets and about four acres of an interim buffer zone.

The RFQ requires respondents to demonstrate their understanding of the Willets Point project; their expertise in developing large-scale, multi-use projects; experience with public/private initiatives; and other criteria to determine eligibility to receive future RFPs. RFP release is expected in 2010.