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Astoria CB1 Unanimously Approves Hallets Point Redevelopment Plan

 If approved by the city, the plan would transform a stretch of waterfront adjacent to the Astoria Houses.
Community Board 1 Approves Plan for Hallets Point Development
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ASTORIA — Queens Community Board 1 voted Tuesday night to unanimously approve a developer's plan to bring thousands of residential apartments, parkland and retail space to a stretch of Astoria waterfront known as Hallets Point.

Lincoln Equities Group is applying for zoning changes in order to go forward with the project, and still needs the approval of several other government bodies in the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. 

If ultimately approved, the project would bring 11 buildings ranging from 11 to 31 stories high to seven acres of the waterfront.

The development would include more than 2,000 apartments, 20 percent of which would be designated affordable, the rest market-rate. Construction would start in late 2014 or early 2015, the developer said.

At a public hearing before the board's vote, Lincoln Equities' development director Robert Schenkel pitched the plan as a positive transformation for Hallets Point, a largely industrial zone that's home to the massive NYCHA Astoria Houses.

He said the plan would bring new housing, retail, an affordable supermarket, a site for a K-8 public school, expanded transportation options and a large landscaped waterfront esplanade to the peninsula.

"We want to reclaim the waterfront. We want to work with the community. We want to create a community, not just build a new development," he said, saying he wanted to alleviate the fears of NYCHA tenants who thought the project would force them out to make way for high-priced apartments.

"We're not building a private gated community, we're not building a private park on the waterfront — this is going to be another link in the neighborhoods that run along the East River."

Many NYCHA tenants who spoke at the hearing expressed their overall support for the project, though took aim at some specific details included in the sprawling plan.

"I cannot stand here and tell you that everything has come down the pipe that we on the peninsula are in total agreement [with]," said Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association.

"There are some great things, it's a beautiful project, but we do have some desires that we think need to be met."

Namely, she said, tenants had requested the developers set aside space for a community center, which they could use for an afterschool program, youth training and senior services.

"A state-of-the art, multi-service, multi-ethnic , multi-resource facility," she said. "That is our desire to be added to this development."

Schenkel said such a facility is not included in their plans.

"The project isn't perfect. The community has asked for a lot of things, and we've tried to do a lot of it," he said.

But he hoped that the site they've specified for a K-8 school on the NYCHA campus could possibly provide some of its space for a community use.

"There is an opportunity to use that, since it's located right in the middle of the Astoria Houses, as a multi-purpose facility," he said, adding that the decision — and the ultimate decision to build the school at all — will be at the discretion of the city's School Construction Authority.

In its recommendation in favor of the plan, CB1 asked the developer to work on securing the requested youth center facility, and to make efforts to implement traffic controls and other infrastructure improvements in the area.

Lincoln Equities say they are working with the MTA to expand service on the Q18, Q19, Q102 and Q103 bus lines in order to accommodate the nearly 7,000 new residents the development is expected to bring to the peninsula.

Lincoln Equities is not the only developer eyeing Hallets Point.

Another group is seeking approval from the city to build Astoria Cove, which would consist of 1,700 apartments and condos along 26th Avenue, between 4th and 9th Streets, to the east of the Hallets Point plan. That project could include a private shuttle service to cart tenants to the N/Q subway station about a mile away.

Community Board 1 chairman Vincent Donato said a public hearing will be held on the Hallets Cove proposal sometime in the next several months.