City suspends funding for Hallets Point affordable housing project in Astoria: report

Photo via Durst Organization

The $43.5 million allocated for the future Hallets Point complex in Astoria was suspended by the city last November, according to Politico.

The city’s Housing Development Corporation was slated to provide the funding for a 163-unit building that is part of the Durst Organization’s 2.5-million-square-foot development project featuring seven planned residential towers.

The specific building that the city pulled funding for will be built for tenants making up to 60 percent of the area median income, which is $51,540 for a family of three or $57,240 for a family of four.

Politico found that the city agency removed the complex from its Nov. 17 agenda and reallocated the funding. As part of the project, the Durst Organization agreed to upgrade the grounds of the neighboring Astoria Houses NYCHA development and four of its boilers.

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for the Durst Organization, said the status of the project is now “unknown.”

“Three days prior to HDC board approval for our 100 percent affordable building’s bond financing, we were notified that the bonds were no longer available to us,” Barowitz told Politico. “We have not heard from City Hall since then, and until we do, the future of the project is unknown.”

City officials told Politico that the organization is still obligated to provide the upgrades to Astoria Houses but Barowitz said they could not complete the improvements until the project is complete.

Housing Development Corporation spokeswoman Elizabeth Rohlfing said the funding was suspended because of the stiff competition for tax-exempt bonds in the midst of potential federal funding cuts.

“There are many deserving affordable housing developments that are ready to go, and we constantly make tough choices to stretch precious resources as we ensure we get the best deals for New Yorkers,” Rohlfing told Politico. “While this project is in our pipeline, this year’s volume cap allocations haven’t been made yet.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Durst Organization have recently butted heads. To defend himself from allegations that he was too friendly with campaign donors, the mayor wrote a blog post highlighting how he did not give special treatments to certain donors.

One example he provided alluded to the Durst Organization’s desire to receive the contract for the city’s new ferry service.

“There was a leading real estate developer and campaign contributor who wanted the contract for our new citywide ferry service,” he wrote. “His proposal was good, but the City agency involved thought another one was better. He didn’t get the contract. That decision wasn’t about his political donations to me.”

When asked to comment about the example the mayor provided, Barowitz told Politico that “winter is coming,” a reference to the HBO show “Game of Thrones.”

Hallets Point would have also been the first development in New York City to generate its own electricity, hot water, heating and cooling on site until the plan was scrapped in July 2016.

The Durst Organization, which originally planned to spend $43 million on three co-generation plants to power five residential towers in Astoria, said the expiration of the 421-a tax incentive spurred their decision. In April 2017, the state Legislature passed legislation to bring the incentive back after an almost two-year expiration.

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