ASTORIA — City officials celebrated the start of construction on the Hallets Point project Thursday, hailing the future development as a means of transforming the isolated Astoria waterfront.
The development, to be built by The Durst Organization and Lincoln Equities, will bring 2,400 new apartments to the Hallets peninsula, a parcel of land on the East River south of Astoria Park that officials describe as largely cut off from the rest of the neighborhood.
The area is home to the Astoria Houses but is otherwise mainly industrial, lacking in retail options and — with the exception of a baseball field — public green space.
"A community that’s not only underutilized, but a locked waterfront," City Councilman Costa Constantinides said. "This project changes the entire paradigm here."
The developers have been planning the $1.5 billion project for seven years, officials said, working with residents from the nearby Astoria Houses to determine what should be included.
"We had that dialogue with them as to what we would like to see here on the peninsula, and they listened to us," said Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Residents Association.
Of the more than 2,000 apartments, 483 of them will be affordable, and Astoria Houses residents will get a preference for half of the affordable units, officials said.
In addition to housing, the seven-building development will have 65,000-square-feet of retail space — including a supermarket — room reserved for an elementary school and a public esplanade along the river.
The city is also building an East River ferry stop nearby, which is set to start operating next year.
"A whole neighborhood will rise," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the groundbreaking Thursday. "Hallets Point is going to be good for every surrounding neighborhood, it's going to be good for all of Queens."
The first building in the project, to open in 2018, will be built on First Street and 26th Avenue. It will have 405 apartments, 81 of which will be reserved for families earning 40 to 50 percent of the area median income ($24,000 a year for an individual and $38,000 for a family of three).
The entire development is expected to take about seven years to complete, a spokesman for The Durst Organization said.