The Hallets Point project in Astoria, Queens, is back on track after Governor Cuomo secured approval of the Affordable New York program earlier this month. The scheme is essentially a replacement for the “421-a” initiative which had been in place for 50 years and encouraged city developers to build more affordable homes incentivized through tax breaks.
Backed by the Durst Organization, the project began construction at the start of 2016, though this stopped just a day later as the 421-a program came to a close, meaning that the developers could not afford to continue the project. It was due to cost $1.5 billion and cover 2.4 million square feet.
Rendering of the waterfront esplanade. (Courtesy Studio V)
Subsequently, it had been reported that Durst had drastically curtailed their plans for the site: A project that once promised seven buildings housing 1,917 market-rate dwellings and a further 483 affordable units along with a supermarket, school, and waterfront esplanade had been reduced to one building boasting a measly 163 units—all of which had been paid for before 421-a ended.
However, Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz told The Architect’s Newspaper that the plan was “never scaled back.” “We just said that if 421-a wasn’t in place we couldn’t move forward, it’s the same plan,” he said. Barowitz also added that if Cuomo’s Affordable New York act hadn’t gone through, Durst would have been forced to scuttle affordable housing on the other projects such as 1800 Park Avenue (which is still in the design phase) and the Queens Plaza Park scheme in Long Island City.
However, Hallets Point—designed by two New York firms Dattner Architects and Studio V—is good to go again. “We’re very pleased we’ll be able to move forward with the project and help revitalize the Hallets community and create a bunch of jobs and hundreds of units of affordable housing,” Barowitz, told DNAinfo.
In a press release, Durst said:
Hallets Point will transform the now isolated stretch of the Queens waterfront into a thriving residential community with a supermarket, a vibrant mix of retail, an extended and enhanced esplanade, parklands and renovated playgrounds. The project also includes community use facilities, a site for the construction of a new K-8 public school and an additional development lot for the New York City Housing Authority.
The first building to be constructed on the site will provide 405 residential units and a supermarket. It is scheduled to open in Spring next year.