Image courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture
A 2.2 million-square-foot mixed-use development site known as Astoria Cove, on nearly nine acres along the East River in Astoria, is seeking a buyer, asking $350 million, Crain’s reports. The site hit the market in mid-March in anticipation of the reinstatement of the 421-a affordable housing tax credit program that had languished since its expiration over a year ago amid debates between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and unions on whether to require higher wages in certain cases. Alma Realty Corp. hired Cushman & Wakefield investment company to market the site; according to sales executive Bob Knakal, “We wouldn’t have hit the market with Astoria Cove in the past 16 months because of the uncertainty around 421-a, but there’s been a sense of optimism in recent weeks that 421-a will be back and with it, the land market will strengthen.”
Alma has reached a deal with the city to reserve 25 percent of the project’s square footage for affordable housing in order to get the zoning to build up to 1.7 million square feet of housing. Plans also call for 110,000 square feet of retail, 300,000 square feet of parking and a school. With a reinstated 421-a law, the site’s buyer could get 35 years of real estate tax breaks for integrating affordable housing into the project. The City Council approved the housing development–the first major land use project of its kind during the de Blasio administration and highly anticipated for its affordable housing component–in 2014.
Without the tax break, interest in development sites has stalled, as developers say rental projects aren’t worth doing without the benefit in place to offset costs of land and construction. State legislators are expected to reinstate 421-a along with the state budget; an agreement was reached between REBNY and unions stating that on land near the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, workers would be paid a minimum $45 an hour ($60 in Manhattan).
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Neighborhoods : Astoria