Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke ground Thursday morning on infrastructure upgrades at Willets Point in Queens to get the collection of junk yards and auto repair shops ready for a multibillion dollar redevelopment.
Bloomberg said the $50 million project signals the city's commitment to bringing apartment towers, office buildings and schools proposed for the 62 acre site.
"These investments mark the first physical steps after years of planning and partnership with local leaders to re-imagine Willets Point as a vibrant commercial and residential community," he said.
Officials say the upgrades will create the area's first sanitary sewer main and reconstruct the aging storm drainage system.
But some property and business owners oppose the redevelopment because they say they will be kicked out through eminent domain right as the city finally supplies sewage pipes for the area.
The city says it has tried to avoid eminent domain and has acquired 90 percent of the land needed for the first of three phases through voluntary negotiations.