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After 9-Year Saga, Progressive Council Member Backs 1,340-Unit Mixed-Income Queens Development

The industrial-zoned Hallett's Point area north of Astoria, Queens, where developers hope to build thousands of units of housing following a years-long cleanup.

A mixed-income housing development that plans to deliver 1,340 units to an area just north of the Queens neighborhood of Astoria has received support from local City Council Member Tiffany Cabán, ahead of a city council vote on the rezoning due to take place Wednesday.

The 1M SF proposed development has been in the works since 2013, when developer Boris Aronov’s Astoria Owners LLC acquired the site for $26.5M from lumber firm LeNoble Lumber, The Real Deal reported.

Halletts North is slated to include 350 permanently affordable apartments, including 20% of apartments at 40% of area median income and a further 25% of apartments for renters between 30% and 80% of AMI.

“It comes with ‘Deep Affordability’ numbers that exceed [Mandatory Inclusionary Housing] requirements,” Cabán tweeted in a thread announcing her decision. “For context, with this project, we’ll almost double the number of units available at 0-50% of local AMI. Let me be super clear on this point: In the last 10 years, Community Board 1 has produced fewer than 500 units below 50% AMI, and this project alone will have 268.”

Cabán, who campaigned on building social housing, said the proposed Halletts North development is better than the alternative, which would likely be a last-mile delivery site, which she said would add to pollution and traffic for Queens residents. Her decision will likely lead to the project being approved, as city council custom dictates that council members vote the same way as the elected representative of the district where the development will eventually exist.

“At present, Halletts North is a sacrifice zone of shuttered industry and vacant lots. It contributes nothing to the community. It prohibits our neighbors from accessing the waterfront,” Cabán tweeted. “The harm reduction choice is clear. I would be a fool not to vote Aye.”

The original asking price for the sale was $80M, but the site eventually sold for far less owing to concerns over the cost and effort developers hoping to build housing would find between the site’s industrial zoning and its pollution. Aronov finished cleaning up the site in 2019 and embarked on the rezoning process, winning support from the local community after agreeing to increase the number of affordable units and improve pedestrian access to the Halletts North waterfront, according to The Real Deal.

Cabán’s decision comes on the heels of a contentious rezoning process for the proposed One45 development in Harlem, which last week announced that a parcel of the site will now serve as a truck depot rather than a mixed-income housing development. But it also comes as several other city council members contemplate rezonings for mixed-income developments in their own districts.

The proposed Innovation QNS development, from Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Bedrock and located in Council Member Julie Won’s district, is up for a city council vote next week, the Queens Eagle reported. Further afield, a four-block rezoning debate stands between Marjorie Velázquez’s East Bronx district and a mixed-income housing development in a neighborhood that has largely failed to build affordable housing in recent years.

Grassroots pro-housing group Open New York cheered the announcement.

“The Council Member showed true leadership today,” Open New York Political Director Logan Phares told The Real Deal. “Instead of allowing this site to fall to the wasteful fate of an unsafe, last-mile facility, supporting this project will create deeply affordable housing, new community space and financial support for Astoria Houses.”