Court Rejects Shopping Mall in Flushing Meadows Corona Park / Former Shea Stadium Parking Lot

Citi Field Parking Lot Could Revert back to Parkland
Citi Field Parking Lot Could Revert back to Parkland

Finally, some good park news has been coming in more recently, unfortunately via lawsuits versus common sense, but, we’ll take it. First, Pier55 and now a legal victory which halts the shopping mega mall in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park which was given to the Mets for their parking lot when Shea Stadium was built. (RIP) As Geoffrey Croft explains in his piece at A Walk in the Park Blog, “State Alienation legislation is required under state law to use parkland for non-park purposes. A 1961 Robert Moses agreement allowed the Mets to built on the parkland with very specific caveats, none of which allowed the development of a mega-mall.”

(For other future public park victories: no more Union Square restaurant with Pavilion returned to community? Roll back of the “little friends of the park group” at Washington Square Park? The private group founded by four wealthy women was hardly forthcoming about their true intentions and the park is clearly at risk of the fate of what happened to all the other larger nearby Manhattan parks which have had change in usage for the public, reduced access, overly commercialized, overly programmed, overly sanitized. Start over with truthfulness by private group about its true plans. This is as important as these other issues.)

From A Walk in the Park Blog, NY’s Highest Court Rejects Mega-Mall In Flushing Meadow-Corona Park

by Geoffrey Croft, NYC Park Advocates

There will be no massive mega-mall next Citi Field for the public to “recreate” in, the six year battle to prevent the illegal taking of public parkland may finally be over.

The State’s highest court rejected the $1 billion Bloomberg-era giveaway of 47.5 acres of public parkland in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park – to one of the country’s most politically connected developers, along with NY Mets owners –  to build the city’s largest mall.

The Queens Development Group – a joint venture between The Related Companies and Sterling Equities, whose owners are New York Met’s principle owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz,  were attempting to build a 1.4 million square foot mall as part of a 47.5  acre project in the Park.

“…the text of the statute and its legislative history flatly refute the proposition that the legislature granted the City the authority to construct a development such as Willets West in Flushing Meadows Park,”  the New York Court of Appeals ruled.

The court ruled 5-1 against the defendants with one dissention.

In July 2015,  The New York State Appellate Division rejected the parkland mega-mall shopping complex deal and ruled in favor of plaintiffs, including NYC Park Advocates, who sued to block the city and the Queens Development Group from seizing nearly 48 acres of public parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The court ruled that the project violated the Public Trust Doctrine and prevented any construction on parkland from proceeding.

Rendering for Mega Mall
Rendering for Mega Mall

The proposed mall in Flushing Meadow Corona Park was never part of the original Willets Point development which was approved in 2008.

The public land was thrown by Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to sweeten the deal for developers.

The developers strategy in court proceedings and in public misstatements has been to try and connect the two development projects – Willet’s Point West, a proposed massive mall on 47 acres of public parkland, and Willets Point, 60 acres of automotive shops on the other side of Citi-Field. The defendants had argued strenuously that Related needed the public parkland in order to build Willets Point.

The court rejected that.

Read more (there are a lot of juicy details about the City Council’s role, New Yorkers for Parks and more ) at A Walk in the Park Blog.

Also visit Save Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Weird trivia: Did the Parks Department remove the dash in the park’s name? It seems they do not use it but others, including Wikipedia and advocates, do – writing Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. I removed it based on the Parks Department site but thought it was missing a dash! Curious.

Top Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates
Bottom Photo: Rendering Economic Development Corporation

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