ASTORIA — A second major affordable housing development touted as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's citywide intitiative is in jeopardy as a result of the state's 421-a tax break program expiring, the developer told DNAinfo.
The builder behind the Astoria Cove development — which would bring some 1,700 apartments, 27 percent of them affordable, to the Hallets peninsula — said without the 421-a a tax break, the project can't move forward.
"Projects like this were conceived with the 421-a in mind," John Mavroudis, principal of Astoria Cove's 2030 Astoria Developers, said in a statement to DNAinfo Tuesday. "We rely on its reauthorization in order to move ahead."
The project is the second one in the city to be scuttled by the stalemate over 421-a. Another massive project, Hallets Point, is also up in the air after the owners said it would be too costly to build the next phase without the tax break.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the Astoria Cove project in his State of the City speech last year as an early victory of his Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy — which requires developments in certain neighborhoods, or those that need a zoning change, to include affordable units as part of the deal.
The Astoria Cove plan was approved by the City Council in 2014, after the developer agreed to increase the number of affordable units in the project from 20 to 27 percent, or 465 apartments.
The Astoria Cove plan included five mixed-use buildings ranging from six to 32 stories in height, which would have been constructed in four phases over a span of 10 years, according initial plans of the project.
2030 Astoria Developers said Astoria Cove was crucial for the city, and would help revitalize the Astoria waterfront and "connect this previously isolated neighborhood to the rest of the city."
"The Astoria Cove project will bring to this community much needed infrastructure, housing, retail, jobs, economic development, along with a world-class waterfront esplanade," John Mavroudis said Tuesday. "It is an excellent project for the city and the surrounding community."
Some have previously speculated whether the Astoria Cove project would ever materialize, and a Politico story last summer posited that the plan would not have been eligible for 421-a because the rent thresholds laid out in the plan were higher than those required by the program.
But Mavroudis disputed this, saying the agreement it made with the city for Astoria Cove had maximum rent levels for the affordable units but not minimums, so he would have been able to tweak them to be eligible for 421-a.
"The project has always been able to meet the standards of previous versions of the 421-a," he said in a statement.
But since 421-a no longer exists, it's up to lawmakers in Albany to decide whether or not to restore the tax break program — which some have criticized as a giveaway to developers — or something similar.
"Every day that passes without a meaningful and sensible tax abatement program is a missed opportunity to address the serious housing crisis facing our city," de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan said in a statement Wednesday.
"You break it, you fix it — it's on Albany to put the pieces of 421-a back together again."