Willets Point, also known locally as the Iron Triangle, is the name currently applied to a neighborhood of Corona, in the New York City borough of Queens. It has no sidewalks or sewers, and as of 2007 only one resident. It is bounded by Northern Boulevard to the north, 126th Street and Citi Field to the west, Roosevelt Avenue to the south and the Flushing River to the east. The IRT 7 Train stops near the southwest corner of the "Triangle", at Roosevelt Avenue at 126 Street near Corona Yard. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 7.
The area was named after that portion of Willets Point Boulevard lying west of Flushing Creek, which flows northward past the area. Willets Point Boulevard once crossed a bridge (no longer in existence) over Flushing Creek and continued to the cape of the same name at the confluence of the East River and Long Island Sound. The true Willets Point is the site of Fort Totten near Bayside, but in the beginning of the 21st century it became common to apply the name "Willets Point" (derived from the street, rather than the geographical feature) to this area.
The area is very industrial and is filled with auto repair shops, scrap yards, waste processing sites, and similar small businesses. In times of severe rain, flooding is common. A recent Hunter College study found that Willets Point was a "unique regional destination" for auto parts and repairs.
It was also the location for a proposed stadium for the 2012 Summer Olympics and press center, which would have replaced Shea Stadium and the car junkyards; however, New York City lost its Olympic bid. Nonetheless, a new baseball stadium for the New York Mets that is named Citi Field is under construction on a nearby site.
Several redevelopment plans for Willets Point were proposed during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, but never consummated. On May 1, 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his administration's new plan for urban renewal in the area, calling Willets Point "another euphemism for blight." The plan calls for replacing the scrapyards and industrial sites with a sustainable and affordable mixed-use development including a convention center and 5,500 units of housing, as well as environmental clean-up and relocation of previous businesses.
On April 9, 2008, the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA), a group of the 10 largest business and land owners in Willets Point, filed a lawsuit against the City of New York seeking a court order requiring the City to provide infrastructure improvements, including repairs to streets and storm sewers, installation of sanitary sewers, street lights, street signs and other services that the City has allegedly withheld for over 40 years. The suit also requests unspecified damages for past neglect. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, in the Eastern District of New York.
On April 21, 2008, a majority of the New York City Council's members expressed their "adamant opposition" to the proposed Willets Point redevelopment in writing to Robert Lieber, New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.
The "adamant opposition" letter was signed by the following 29 City Council members: Joseph Addabbo, Jr.; Tony Avella; Charles Barron; Leroy C. Comrie; Bill de Blasio; Inez Dickens; Mathieu Eugene; Lewis A. Fidler; James Gennaro; Vincent J. Gentile; Eric N. Gioia; Sara M. Gonzalez; Letitia James; G. Oliver Koppell John Liu; Miguel Martinez; Darlene Mealy; Rosie Mendez; Hiram Monserrate; Annabel Palma; Diana Reyna; Joel Rivera; James Sanders, Jr.; Helen Sears; James Vacca; Albert Vann; David Weprin; Thomas White; David Yassky.
On April 24, 2008, Queens elected officials, various union members and others rallied at a press conference on the steps of New York City Hall. The gathering was in support of having the city move forward with the proposed development of Willets Point. The rally was led by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. Also in attendance were state senators Frank Padavan and Toby Ann Stavisky and Assembly Member Nettie Mayersohn, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and Queens Chamber of Commerce President Al Pennisi who spoke about the vital role the development would play in the Queens business community.
The plan was approved with numerous conditions by Queens Community Board 7 on June 30, 2008 and by the City Planning Commission on September 24, 2008. The City Council held a public hearing regarding the plan on October 17 and voted on November 13, 2008 to approve the redevelopment plan, which includes the potential use of eminent domain to acquire property. Some property owners have vowed to try to stop the plan through litigation, while others voluntarily sold their property to the City during the fall of 2008 so as to avert involuntary taking of their property through eminent domain.
The short stretch of businesses along Northern Boulevard between Willets Point Boulevard and Flushing Creek served as the inspiration for the location of George Wilson's gas station in The Great Gatsby; Myrtle Wilson would have been run over by Daisy Buchanan on Northern Boulevard.
The 2007 film Chop Shop was filmed and takes place in this neighborhood.