FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JUNE 24, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
City breaks ground on Willets Point redevelopment
BY KEVIN DUGGAN
Th e city on Wednesday, June 16,
offi cially broke ground on the Willets
Point redevelopment in Queens, where
developers will build 1,100 below-marketrate
Family says goodbye to 10-year-old shooting victim Justin Wallace
BY LLOYD MITCHELL
Family, school friends and a grieving
community said an emotional goodbye
to 10-year-old Justin Wallace on Monday,
June 21, during his funeral service at Full
Gospel Tabernacle in Far Rockaway.
Wallace’s life was taken from him by
a single gunshot on June 5 at a home
on Beach 45th Street in Edgemere. Th e
suspected shooter, Jovan Young, allegedly
opened fi re on the youngster and his
29-year-old uncle in an incident stemming
from an ongoing dispute, reportedly
over a shared driveway. Wallace’s
uncle sustained bullet wounds to his neck
and hand, which were treated at Jamaica
Young turned himself into police days
later and is currently facing murder
charges for a crime that outraged a city
on edge for months while gun violence
has increased at a staggering rate amid the
ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Wallace died just days before his 11th
birthday, and his scheduled graduation
from elementary school. A number of his
former classmates and friends participated
in Monday’s service with Wallace’s family.
Queens District Attorney Melinda
Katz and NYPD Chief of Community
Aff airs Jeff rey Maddrey also took part in
the service, comforting mourners while
also paying their respects to the slain
Th e grief proved too much for some
in attendance. Several of Wallace’s
family members collapsed during the
viewing and were treated by paramedics.
Wallace’s brother-in-law, Ryan Piccock,
described the victim as an intelligent child
who loved math and was “an absolutely
joy to be around.”
Community resident Nicole Johnson
said, “our babies are dying before they get
the chance to even live.”
“I hope and pray this makes a change.
We shouldn’t be burying a child here,”
added community member Juane
Wallace is the youngest shooting victim
so far to have his life claimed by gun
violence which year to date has seen 687
people shot across the fi ve boroughs.
housing units and a school atop old
industrial land next to Citi Field.
“For 1,100 families there’s going to be a
home — 1,100 families are going to have
a home here in Queens that they can
depend on,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at
the groundbreaking ceremony. “It means
a family that for decades know a place to
lay their head, a place to bring up their
children. Th ey’ll have peace. Th ey’ll have
Th e 6-acre tract at the corner of
Roosevelt Avenue and Seaver Way will
be transformed into a mixed-use neighborhood
with three residential buildings,
a 650-seat public school, an acre of
open space, 25,000 square feet of retail
space and a 3,000-square-foot community
“Th is is groundbreaking. Th is is historic,”
said Councilman Francisco Moya,
who represents the area. “Th is represents
a dramatic improvement in this area. It
will improve the lives of 1,100 families
and seniors. Th is represents an opportunity
for 650 children in the district to
not go into any overcrowded schools anymore.
Th is represents bringing publicly
accessible open space, new jobs and
so much more — and it’s only the fi rst
Th e project is being done by a pair of
developers under the moniker Queens
Development Group (QDG), which
includes Stephen Ross’ Related Companies
— the builder behind Hudson Yards in
Manhattan — and Sterling Equities, a real
estate company that owned the Mets until
selling the team to billionaire hedge fund
manager Steve Cohen last fall.
“I’ve been looking out at this acreage for
many many years, only hoping that there’d
be a day like this that we could all celebrate
the true start of this project,” Sterling
Equities partner Richard Browne said.
Construction on the residential buildings
and the schools won’t start until 2024,
as the developers will have to fi rst clean
up the toxic soil from decades of pollution
from the auto body shops that dominate
the corner of land at the mouth of
the Flushing Creek, starting this summer.
Construction workers will then build
new streets, sidewalks and utilities, such
as a sewage system, which is slated to
happen in 2022.
Plans to redevelop Willets Point date
back 15 years to the administration of
then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and offi -
cials have repeatedly tried to reimagine
the 23 acres of city-controlled land sandwiched
between the neighborhoods of
Flushing and Corona.
Th e current plan for the 6-acre site —
roughly twice the size of the baseball fi eld
next door — is dubbed Phase 1 of transforming
Willets Point, which real estate
bigs hope will jumpstart more redevelopment
of the industrial yards.
“We start cleaning this land and you’re
going to see a lot of magical things happen
and the momentum will continue,”
QDG leased the land from the city
for 99 years, according to the Economic
Development Corporation, the agency
managing the project. Queens politicians
and community board reps signed off on
the agreement in May.
Under the agreement with EDC, out
of the 1,100 homes, 220 of the units
will be earmarked for seniors and another
99 will be for families who were formerly
homeless transitioning out of the
Th e remaining 781 units will be set
aside for six diff erent income groups ranging
from 30 to 130 percent of the federally
designated Area Median Income (AMI),
the Astoria Post reported. About 55 percent
of units, including those for seniors,
will be for those making less than 60 percent
of the AMI, which in 2021 refl ects
a family of three making $64,440 a year.
However, less than half of all units, or
45 percent, will remain permanently tied
to AMI, according to EDC. An agency
spokeswoman did not respond to a follow
up request if or when the remaining 605
units would return to free-market prices.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell
Justin Wallace’s sister becomes overwhelmed at his funeral on June 21, 2021.
Photo by Kevin Duggan
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined fellow electeds and city offi cials in celebrating the groundbreaking of the Willets Point redevelopment in Queens on June 16.