Last week, after years of planning and teamwork, we took the first physical steps in transforming Willets Point, Queens, from a heavily polluted industrial zone into a vibrant commercial and residential community. The $50 million initial investment we are making there, to install critical infrastructure, will create more than 350 construction-related jobs.
But that’s only the first step. The full Willets Point redevelopment will completely re-imagine the area’s 62 acres and lead to the creation of thousands of units of mixed-income housing, more than a million square feet of retail and entertainment space, office space, open space, parks and playgrounds, the city’s first convention center outside of Manhattan, and a new public school. Taken together, this ambitious project will create more than 5,300 permanent jobs, 18,000 construction-related jobs, and have a total economic impact of $4.2 billion over the next 30 years.
The new Willets Point -- which will be next door to some of Queens’ most dynamic and popular destinations including Downtown Flushing, Citi Field, and the USTA National Tennis Center -- will become a major engine for economic growth for New York City, generating local employment and business opportunities while improving the overall quality of life for local residents.
Improving the quality of life for New Yorkers is also one of the driving principles behind our “Schoolyard to Playground” initiative. We’ve taken schoolyards across the city and opened them up after school hours, and on weekends, so the whole community can enjoy them. Over the past few years, we’ve converted 134 acres of schoolyards into playgrounds that are now open throughout the year.
Last Wednesday, we opened the 200th such playground at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. This initiative brings us closer to the goal we set in PlaNYC of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.
Whether we’re transforming parts of the city and spurring job growth or improving our quality of life by making open spaces more available; we are focused on laying the groundwork today that will make New York City stronger and more resilient for generations to come.