Related, Wilpon Said in Talks for Project Near Mets Park

Related Cos. and Fred Wilpon’s Sterling Equities Inc. are in exclusive negotiations for the rights to develop Willets Point, a neighborhood of automotive shops and junkyards near the New York Mets’ ballpark, said a person with knowledge of the talks.

The person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private, wouldn’t say more about the negotiations. The city of New York is close to reaching a deal with Related and Sterling Equities to build a mall on the site, the New York Observer reported earlier today on its website.

Wilpon and his Sterling partners became sole owners of the Mets baseball team in 2002. In March, Wilpon and Mets President Saul B. Katz, who had invested with convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff, reached a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the liquidator of Madoff’s firm. Related is run by Stephen M. Ross, owner of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins and developer of Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan.

“We’re very close to having a deal in place that will transform Willets Point into New York City’s next great neighborhood and continue the historic progress we’ve already made there,” said Julie Wood, deputy press secretary to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Joanna Rose, a spokeswoman for New York-based Related, declined to comment. A call made after regular business hours to Sterling Equities’ office in Great Neck, New York, wasn’t immediately returned.

New York City last year issued a request for proposals from builders interested in constructing retail, entertainment, housing and other types of development on the 61-acre (25-hectare) site, which is in Queens across 126th Street from Citi Field, where the Mets have played since it opened in 2009.

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