NEW YORK (AP) -Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan Tuesday to turn 60 acres of junkyards and auto-parts shops next to the construction site of the New York Mets' new ballpark into a neighborhood of homes, shops, offices and entertainment.
``We believe that out of these ashes can rise New York City's next great neighborhood, a dynamic center of life, energy and economic activity and a model for sustainability and environmental stewardship,'' Bloomberg said. ``After a century of blight and neglect, the future of this area is very bright indeed.''
The master plan for the area known as Willets Point, or the Iron Triangle, includes a school, a 700-room hotel and a 400,000-square-foot convention center. Over the next decade the plan would replace 225 auto shops and 25 industrial and manufacturing businesses with 5,500 housing units, 1.7 million square feet of retail and entertainment and 500,000 square feet of office space.
The new ballpark, Citi Field, is to open in 2009, adjacent to Shea Stadium.
The redevelopment site is polluted from years of petroleum spills and will have to be cleaned up. Garbage and broken-down chassis are piled high, and there are no sewers. Many of the auto shops are low-rent chop shops in cinderblock sheds.
The city has promised to help the existing businesses relocate and will offer job training and other assistance to the estimated 1,300 workers who make their living there. Daniel Sambucci, who owns an auto salvage business at the site, was skeptical that the city could find him a new home.
``There's not much land available anymore,'' he said. ``What are you going to do for us? We've been there 50 years.''
Land would have to be purchased from some 65 individual owners through negotiation or by eminent domain. The lone legal resident of the 60-acre site, Joseph Ardizzone, has said he does not want to move. Ardizzone did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday. Bloomberg bristled when asked about Ardizzone.
``Did you ever try to think of what's going right in this city?'' he said. ``And of all the hundreds of thousands of people who will benefit, rather than one person? Look, unfortunately there will always be one person who objects to everything, but I don't think anybody suggests that this society should stay back in the Stone Age and never move ahead.''

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