The state’s top court on Tuesday blocked a proposed shopping mall near the New York Mets’ home at Citi Field, ruling that developers of the proposed Willets West project needed expressed consent from state legislators and the governor’s office before moving forward.
In a 5-1 decision, the Court of Appeals said the area developers are eyeing was originally part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, later home to Shea Stadium. The court said the state’s public trust doctrine prevents park land from being turned over to developers without state legislative approval.
The building of a baseball stadium on the site was authorized more than 50 years ago, but that action only covered the ballpark and cannot be applied to the proposed mall, Judge Rowan Wilson wrote for the majority. Developers need a separate approval to move forward with the proposed mall, he said.
“The plain language of the statute does not authorize the proposed construction,” Wilson wrote. He said that “history also unambiguously demonstrates that the Legislature did not authorize the city to do more than enter into agreements for the use of the stadium . . . ”
The decision upheld a similar 2015 ruling by a midlevel appeals court.
The Queens Development Group — which includes the Mets and developer Related Cos. — proposed the mall as part of a $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point. The plan, which is backed by the city, includes a mall, movie theater and residential development.