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Willets Pt. may host center for conventions: Boro prez

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Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said Tuesday her office is entertaining the idea of proposing a convention center to be built in Flushing’s Willets Point as part of the area’s redevelopment plan.

Marshall, speaking to the Queens Chamber of Commerce during a meeting with her borough cabinet, addressed a packed ballroom at the LaGuardia Marriott and told them Willets Point’s proximity to the airport, Shea stadium and United States Tennis Association headquarters makes it an attractive space for gatherings. The borough president said she wants to transform the brownfield and introduce development comparable to nearby areas like Flushing.

“We cannot afford to have this in our midst anymore,” Marshall said of Willets Point, the site of auto part shops that does not have a sewer line and relies on cesspools to dispose of waste. “It is not too far from LaGuardia and it is a good location.”

The borough president said the Queens Chamber of Commerce has been pushing for a convention center to be built in Willets Point for years. She said any future plans would not be linked to or interfere with the city’s 2012 Olympics proposal that wants to secure a site for a new convention center on the West Side of Manhattan.

Marshall also discussed development plans in Long Island City, Jamaica, the Rockaways and Elmhurst.

She said her office and other city agencies are working to transform Long Island City into a more pedestrian-friendly part of Queens. Marshall also praised the construction of new apartment buildings in the area, including the Avalon complex and Queens West development, which have attracted hundreds of new residents to the borough.

The potential for a permanent commuter ferry to the Rockaways was also addressed in Marshall’s comments to the Queens chamber audience. She called on the city to use $300,000 in earmarked subsidies to establish a permanent route to Manhattan for Queens workers that could shave almost an hour from the commute time for those living on the Rockaway peninsula.

Overall, the borough president stressed the fast speed and massive amount of development that is occurring in Queens. She said the economic shape of the borough is bright and will continue to attract businesses in the future.

“Our borough is jumping,” she said. “Everyone wants to come and build in Queens, live in Queens...isn’t it wonderful?”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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