Thursday, August 28, 2008

Willets Point Critic Agrees to Maspeth Relocation

Crown Container Inks Deal with City EDC

By Conor Greene

One of the most vocal opponents to the city’s plan to redevelop Willets Point has reportedly agreed to make way for the project and relocate to a Maspeth site.

Jerry Antonacci, owner of Crown Container, has agreed to sell his 23,000-square-foot property to the city, according to several published reports. Under the agreement, the waste transfer company started by his father in 1959 would move from 34th Avenue to a location in Maspeth.

The city’s Economic Development Corp, which is overseeing the city’s ambitious plan to redevelop the industrial area near Shea Stadium into housing, retail and office space, has yet to formally announce the agreement with Crown Container, which was first reported last week.

Antonacci was on vacation this week and unavailable to comment on the reported deal. However, he told Crain’s New York Business, “All I can say is it’s a very good deal… The last couple of weeks we put a lot of time in, and we got it done.”

The deal with Crown Container would mark the fifth agreement the EDC has signed with the approximately 250 businesses based in Willets Point. Many owners have publicly expressed concern that the city will use eminent domain to seize their land if they don’t enter into an agreement.

While the exact location in Maspeth hasn’t been announced, it will likely be in an industrial area near Grand Avenue and 48th Street near the Newtown Creek, currently home to a number of businesses.

Sources are speculating that the city will wait until after Labor Day to announce several deals at once, according to a recent report in Crain’s.

Up to this point, Antonacci had been one of the most outspoken members of the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association, which is a group of landowners opposed to the city’s redevelopment plan. He has withdrawn from that group now that he has reached a deal with the city, but said he is still concerned about the threat of eminent domain.

“I don’t want to see eminent domain used on anybody,” he said. “I hope the city treats everyone else as good as they treated me. If they do, maybe you won’t see so much fight,” he told Crain’s.

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