By Bill Parry
The Durst Organization has acquired the Queens Plaza Park development site alongside the landmarked Clock Tower building and will press forward with construction of the largest skyscaper in Queens.
The site was purchased from a joint venture between Kevin Maloney’s Property Markets Group and Kamran Hakim for $167 million.
The original plan for the site included condominium residences, but Durst intends to build a million-square-foot, 1,000-unit residential tower under the proposed 421-a tax abatement program if it passes.
The proposed 421-a program requires that at least 25 percent of the units be affordable.
In addition to the tower, the site will include a half-acre public park and a renovated entrance to the Queens Plaza subway station.
As part of the transaction, the Durst Organization purchased the Clock Tower building.
“This is an extraordinary site with spectacular views and outstanding mass transit connectivity,” Durst Organization President Jonathan Durst said.
“The project provides us with the opportunity to build much needed market-rate and affordable housing and to make long-term investments in New York City that have been the bedrock of The Durst Organization’s success for more than 100 years.”
The original developers spent years acquiring the land for the project and reached a deal with the MTA for 478,000 square feet of air rights for $56 million that allowed the joint venture Queens Plaza Development LLC to increase the size of the tower from 38 stories to 77.
The project stalled and Maloney told The New York Times, “we didn’t have the horsepower to get it done.”
The Durst Organization, which built One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, had also planned the $1.5 billion Hallets Point mega-project in Astoria, which would have built five buildings and 2,400 apartments, 484 of them affordable.
But the company scaled the plan back to just one building after the 421-a program was allowed to expire last January.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Nov. 10 that he had brokered a deal between the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York to revive the 421-a program.
The deal still needs the approval of lawmakers in Albany and the next legislative session does not begin until January.
Cuomo’s call for a special session have gone unheeded. Meanwhile, The Durst Organization looks forward to getting starting on the project at 29-37 41st St.
“We look forward to joining, and working with, our new neighbors in Long Island City,” Durst said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr