Major Developments In The Works In Astoria

Astoria Presentation .pdf

A rendering of 8th Street Mews in Astoria Cove.
Courtesy of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP

BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Staff Writer

The Halletts Point peninsula is getting a face lift.

Two major developments are slated for the area – Halletts Point, which has been in the works for several years and was approved by City Council in late 2013; and Astoria Cove, which was certified by the City Planning Commission in April and will now head to the public review process.

The Halletts Point peninsula is located just south of Astoria Park and juts into the East River. This area is largely industrial and has minimal access to public transportation.

According to Andrew Moesel, spokesperson for Halletts Point developers Lincoln Equities Group, LLC, “this is an area that has long been somewhat neglected and underdeveloped,” lacking “basic resources like restaurants, shops and supermarkets.”

A rendering of 28th Avenue in Astoria Cove. Courtesy of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP

A rendering of 28th Avenue in Astoria Cove. Courtesy of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP

The $1 billion Halletts Point development, slated to break ground in 2015, will have 2,200 waterfront apartments in seven buildings of between 11 and 31 stories. Twenty percent of the units will be set aside for affordable housing, as a part of the 80/20 Program, which stipulates that in exchange for tax-exempt financing bonds for construction, 20 percent of apartment units must be reserved for low-income tenants.

Space is also being allotted for a community-priced supermarket, cafes and shops on the East River Esplanade, parking and a public school. Developers have hired the firm that designed the High Line in Manhattan, James Corner Field Operations, as the landscape architect for Halletts Point. The firm designed the public space on the waterfront and around the new Halletts Point buildings.

Based on input from the community, Moesel said space will also be allotted for a community heath care resource.

“We’ve put in some retail space that we believe would be well-suited for an emergency care center,” he explained.

Moesel said that “development [in this area] can add a tremendous amount of resources to the community.” Developers are also “currently working with the MTA to try to bring train and bus service to the community.”

“There are a lot of positives associated with the Halletts Point development” Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said, citing in particular the revitalized waterfront and potential ferry access. “We already know the benefits because it went through a very rigorous Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process. Everyone that’s involved is excited about it.”

The neighboring Astoria Cove development plan involves about 1,700 units in five buildings, three of which would be located on the waterfront and will reach from 26 to 32 stories. The proposed development includes a supermarket, a park and playground, an elementary school and waterfront access.

Ron Mandel of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP, the Astoria Cove developer, said “the proposed open space plan maximizes the unique waterfront location and vibrant street life characteristic of the existing Astoria neighborhood.”

Mandel added that the buildings’ massings – their design, shape and size – was composed “in such a way as to minimize the visual and physical impact on proposed open space and neighboring properties.”

Astoria Cove will also set aside 295 units for affordable housing – a drop from the originally-promised minimum of 340 affordable units.

“Affordability is definitely going to be part of the discussion with the developer,” Constantinides said, as will worker’s conditions and green space, among many other topics.

“It’s incumbent upon the developers to demonstrate to this community how this project is going to benefit the community,” Constantinides said. “Nothing right now is set in stone.”

According to Mandel, the project “will enable the transformation of the development site from an underutilized and deteriorated portion of the Halletts Point peninsula into a resilient and vibrant extension of the existing Astoria neighborhood.”

For his part, Constantinides said he looks to the future of the region.

“I think that we have some real opportunity here to do some good things that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” he said.

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, jstrawbridge@queenstribune.com or @JNStrawbridge.