Relocation deal with Willets Point waste company may fall through: Source

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A day after the city announced a substantial land acquisition from a Willets Point property owner, the TimesLedger has learned a previous deal may be in jeopardy of failing.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Thursday that complications have surfaced in the deal Crown Container Co. had reached in principle with the city. The agreement with the 23,000-square-foot waste transfer facility was never formally announced by the city, but owner Jerry Antonacci told the TimesLedger on Aug. 20 that he had agreed to sell his property to the New York City Economic Development Corporation and relocate to Maspeth.

Reached for comment, Antonacci said all hope was not lost for the relocation deal, but that the situation was “bleak.”

“As of right now we haven’t signed anything. We’re still trying to work through, but as of today it doesn’t look good,” he said. “But we’re still open to continuing negotiations with the city.”

Reached for comment the EDC, which is hoping to buy out or relocate the 260 businesses at Willets Point to create a sprawling, environmentally sustainable neighborhood, said that all negotiations are confidential but productive discussions continue with several land owners in the area.

On Wednesday, the EDC announced it had acquired 44,500 square feet of land owned by MA Realty, a firm which rents its space to tenants in the area, marking the sixth deal struck with a property owner since negotiations began in the spring.

“MA Realty is pleased to accept what we believe to be a fair offer by the city of New York for our property at Willets Point,” an MA Realty representative said in a statement. “The city bargained in good faith at every step of the process and we particularly commend the city’s Economic Development Corp.”

The collapse of the Crown Container deal would be a setback for the city, which has so far signed agreements to acquire less than four acres of land in the 62-acre industrial enclave.

The City Council is expected to vote on the project this November and more than 30 of its members have publicly signaled their apprehension towards voting for a plan that could include the use of eminent domain.

The city has said it will only utilize eminent domain if all other options are exhausted, but the slow and often prickly negotiations with property owners have continued to push the use of the controversial practice to the forefront of the debate.

If the plan is approved, the city hopes to raze the entire area and complete a multi-million-dollar environmental remediation to pave the way for a massive residential and commercial community adjacent to the new Mets stadium. The proposed plan would include up to 5,500 housing units, more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space and a 400,000-square-foot convention center designed to present an alternative to the Javits Center in Manhattan.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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