A week ago the New York Csty Council approved a $3 billion project to transform Willets Point from what is seen as a third-world cesspool to a mixed-use development with "exciting retail and entertainment offerings, a hotel and convention center, thousands of mixed-income residential units and new public open spaces and other community amenities" on the 60-acre site.
[Willets Point now | image source]
Eminent domain is the tool of choice for the transformation of the area near the new Mets Stadium that is home to auto shops, junkyards and other "undesirable" businesses. Pollution is rampant from the industrial uses in the area, as well as the lack of infrastructure like sewers. I've never been to Willets Point myself, but photos of it remind me of Lago Agrio, the frontier Ecuadorian oil town I studied a year ago. My attitude to the Queens area is similar: as undesirable as the place may be to most, that doesn't mean it should be bulldozed to a tabula rasa; the best of the life that exists should somehow be incorporated into the long-term plan.
[Willets Point in 30 years | image source]
The renderings give the impression that a whole new neighborhood will spring up over time. Let's hope it has the apparent vibrancy of the current incarnation.