31 October 2009

RFQ Verbiage - what can be built?

When The Borough Boys met with Fred Wilpon last year, they were told that any Soccer Specific Stadium for an MLS side would be built in the parking lot where Shea Stadium once stood. As we know, since that meeting so much has changed. The economy tanked and it’s been reported that the Wilpons lost hundreds of millions with Bernard Madoff. We might not ever know how close we were to seeing a ground breaking at the old Shea Stadium site.

So over the past year, while things have been very quiet on the Major League Soccer expansion to New York front, we started noticing some signals.

First, a New York Times interview with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, where he states:

"I never, ever expected the Mets to be involved in this round. They can’t have a new stadium ready for 2011. We continue to meet with the Mets as they look at possibilities in Willets Point. I never expected them to be ready to play in 2011. Where would they play? And the redevelopment project at Willets Point could take years. "

With a lot of legal action still ongoing with Willets Point, the chatter about the redevelopment has been minimal. Now that the city appears closer, and the NYEDC issuing a Request For Qualifications, it got me to think, what can be built here? I bring you to a very interesting paragraph within the NYEDC's RFQ:

"The City is contemplating moving forward with a staged development strategy for Willets Point that will first focus on the southwest portion of the District that includes approximately 18 acres of development area and streets and about four acres of an interim buffer zone. The maximum development for this area includes 980,000 square feet of destination and entertainment retail; 2,000 units of mixed income housing; 500,000 square feet of office space; 400 hotel rooms; a school; and open space and parking. "

I am not very informed when it comes to the lingo of zoning and retail but I did do some investigating reporting (If you can call it that, I am a blogger, not a reporter!) and I found one thing very interesting.

"980,000 square feet of destination and entertainment retail"

What the hell does that mean? Well, it can mean a NUMBER of things, it can mean shopping malls, it can be large scale retail stores etc. It really opens up a lot of possibilities, BUT the only possibility we care about, obviously, is if it can mean a stadium. I have looked around and this line right there leaves the door open for the possibility of a stadium to be built. And at 22 acres, the area can easily accommodate a stadium and a retail mall. In fact, I have seen this same exact language used in areas around the country where other facilities are, such as South Philadelphia and Glendale, Arizona.

So while this does not say we are getting a stadium, it certainly does not say, we are NOT getting one either! The Door is open! Anyone got a few hundred million to build a stadium?
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