Plagued by a chronic shortage of affordable housing across the city, Mayor Eric Adams is celebrating the City Council’s overwhelming approval of the Halletts North project in Astoria. The plan, developed by Astoria Owners LLC, will bring 1,340 apartments — including 335 affordable units — to a 3.8-acre industrial site on the Halletts Point Peninsula.
The City Council voted in favor of the proposal 43-1 during its Sept. 29 stated meeting two weeks after Astoria Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán announced she would vote to approve the rezoning application that allows the construction of the three-tower residential development at 3-15 26th Ave. Only Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron voted against the project.
“We can only crack the affordable housing crisis by making New York City a ‘City of Yes,’ and approving this project is a significant step in the right direction,” Adams said. “The solution to our housing shortage is simple: build more housing. We all need to take responsibility for the housing crisis we are facing, and I applaud our partners in the City Council for advancing this important project.”
In addition to delivering a significant amount of housing, the project will create an acre of new, resilient waterfront open space and expand public access along the East River waterfront. The developers began a $16 million cleanup effort at the site in 2016, which included the remediation of 8,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil; the removal of PCBs, pesticides and other hazardous material; and the demolition of deteriorated structures, subgrade utilities and a concrete bunker.
When she announced her support for the Halletts North project, Cabán said the lot contributes nothing to the community.
“It also prevents our neighbors from accessing the waterfront,” she said. “It sends a message to the residents of Astoria Houses at the next block over that they’re unworthy of a safe, comfortable neighborhood.”
The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs and it will be built by union labor. The development will include space for retail and for a job incubator run by community nonprofits Urban Upbound and Zone 126, which will both have space in the development for $1 a year, but it’s the affordable housing component that officials in the Adams administration are lauding.
“We need to build more affordable housing across the city if we are going to change a status quo that has harmed far too many of our neighbors,” Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer said. “New Yorkers in every community are standing up and saying, ‘We want to be a part of the solution,’ and the Halletts North project is another big win for affordability in our city.”
The Astoria Owners leadership team said the rezoning shows that through dialogue and compromise, a major development can move forward through the complex city review process.
“From Council member Cabán, Borough President Richards and so many in the Adams’ administration to leadership of the Astoria Houses, we all understand that our city is facing an unprecedented housing crisis. But it’s important to make sure new development is working to lift up and bring opportunity for all,” said Jim Hedden, a representative of the development team. “Halletts North will bring desperately needed jobs, affordable housing and develop a publicly accessible waterfront park, from a previously unusable industrial site, returning the waterfront to our neighbors in the Astoria Houses and throughout northwest Queens. We look forward to being an important part of the Halletts peninsula community for many years to come.”
The design for Halletts North is a collaboration between STUDIO V Architecture and Ken Smith Workshop, and the public waterfront will include trees, plantings and rain gardens with ample seating throughout. An elevated site plan will meet key goals to reduce flooding and increase coastal resiliency.
“After nearly a decade of working with multiple community groups, agencies and developers, our greatest strength is utilizing innovative design to get disparate groups to agree on a common vision,” STUDIO V Founder and Principal Jay Valgora said. “We are excited to demonstrate neighborhoods can be transformed from underutilized industrial and polluted sites into exciting public parks and showcase resilient communities.”