The Astoria peninsula that protrudes into the East River called Hallets Point will soon be transformed into a flourishing cosmopolitan area complete with residential towers, a riverfront esplanade and businesses.
In addition to two other major development proposals in Queens — the proposal for Willets Point in Corona and 5Pointz in Long Island City — the City Council approved Lincoln Equities’ $1 billion Hallets Point project on Oct. 10.
“This project is going to bring much needed development to the peninsula,” Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said. “There is no bank, no grocery store, poor transportation options and now with this plan, we will ensure a supermarket, a bank and a K through 9 school will be placed in an area that desperately needs it.”
The development will run along the East River and Western Astoria and create approximately 2,100 luxury and 500 affordable units and make a more visible shoreline.
The nearby Astoria House housing projects may benefit from the project as well.
“We want to make sure that this development is fully integrated into the area,” Vallone said. “We don’t want to section off Astoria Houses and we don’t want to make any existing residents feel uncomfortable. I think this can be a win-win for everyone.”
With other developments near housing projects, there have been complaints that residents of the projects feel shut-out or segregated within their own neighborhood, but Vallone assured that wouldn’t be the case in Astoria.
“It took me a while to approve it because I wanted to be careful going into such a big project,” he said. “That’s why we made sure the project is integrated into the area. There will be no walls around the project, just open streets that are planned to work with the streets that are already there. The developers did what was asked of them and I think that’s a testament to all of the hard work they put into this plan.”
Vallone is also adamant about improving Hallets Point’s access to public transportation, a factor that, if ignored, would have been a deal breaker for the councilman.
“I didn’t get on board until the night before when they committed $500,000 geared to improving the transportation in the area,” Vallone said.
On the top of his transportation list: Bring the ferry to Hallets Point.
“I think we need ferry service now,” Vallone said. “I was out there saying it shouldn’t have just stopped at Long Island City, that it should continue on and if we add thousands of more people through this project, it’ll be appropriate to bring the ferry to the area.”
Lincoln Equities expects to break ground on the project in late 2014 or early 2015.
When asked what kind of bank and grocery store would be moving in, the councilman said there was no set plan.
“I don’t think there is a final tenant just yet but the grocery store will be something that everyone should be comfortable with,” he said. “It won’t be a Whole Foods. I cannot control which business ends up there, but the developers will make sure that the businesses will integrate well into the neighborhood.”