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June 13th, 2003, 10:09 PM
June 13, 2003

188 Co-op Units Planned for Ex-Factory in Astoria


Work is under way to turn the former Eagle Electric Company factory and warehouse site in Astoria, Queens, into a co-op complex with 188 apartments. The conversion, which includes new construction, is a departure from the overwhelming pattern in recent years of developing for-sale units as condominiums.

Half of the apartments are being carved from the three-story 1920's factory, which will have three stories added as part of the redevelopment. The remaining units will be in a new five-story building that is rising next to the old factory building and will be linked to it. The site fills an entire block, bounded by 19th and 21st Streets, 24th Avenue and 23rd Terrace.

The buildings in the $30 million project, called Riverview Apartments, will overlook a central courtyard. The Pistilli Realty Group of Astoria is developing Riverview, which will also include 10,000 square feet of stores and parking for nearly 200 cars. Construction will take 18 to 24 months.

According to the New York State attorney general's office, whose approval is required for co-op or condo offering plans, 19 co-op plans covering 1,531 new or converted apartments have been filed since 1997, compared with 650 condo plans, involving 16,754 apartments. Industry specialists say the condo form of ownership has gained favor because it puts fewer restrictions on apartment owners than is typical in co-ops.

Joseph Pistilli, chief operating officer of Pistilli Realty, said he chose the co-op form of ownership because the community wanted for-sale housing, rather than a rental, and because he leased the factory and the land rather than owning it. Condos must own both their buildings and the land beneath them.

Mr. Pistilli said, however, that the lease included an option to buy the property in 10 years at an agreed-upon price. He also said the offering plan he expected to submit to the attorney general's office in 90 days would include a provision making it mandatory that apartment buyers participate in the purchase of the building and land.

Mr. Pistilli said that the plan was to refinance the complex at that time, replacing lease payments with mortgage payments. He added that he could not say whether monthly maintenance charges for apartment owners would be higher or lower because of that change.

Daniel Martin, a vice president at the Roslyn Savings Bank, which provided $19.5 million in financing to the project, said that the market was strong and that "Riverview offers homeownership opportunities in a homeownership area."

The 75-year-old Eagle Electric factory, where switches and other electrical devices were once made, is in a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes. The building also is next to Astoria Park and overlooks the East River.

Mr. Pistilli said the location was a chief reason he got involved with the site three years ago. But for the project to move ahead, the zoning for the property had to be changed from manufacturing to residential that also allowed retail space.

Lucille Hartmann, assistant district manager of Community Board 1, said the Eagle warehouse was among the last big commercial buildings left to redevelop in Astoria. Another is the former Stern's warehouse at 45-02 Ditmars Boulevard, which Mr. Pistilli bought last year to convert to up to 225 condos.

The Augusta Group of Glendale, Queens, has designed Riverview with studio to three-bedroom apartments of 800 to 1,500 square feet. The units in the existing factory will have river and Manhattan views and many will have 16-foot high ceilings.

The top floor will be divided into two levels, and three new floors, which will step back from the original factory, will be added. Many of the apartments in the new structure will have terraces.

Sales prices have not yet been set, but Mr. Pistilli said he expected them to be $300 to $400 a square foot, or an average of $350,000 for a 1,000-square-foot apartment.

George Alexiou, president of an Astoria real estate brokerage company that bears his name, said that while those anticipated prices were "a little high," buyers might be willing to pay them because Riverview was new and the apartment market in the area was tight.

Monthly maintenance fees have not been determined. But since they will include the rent to lease the property, they are expected to be generally higher than the monthly maintenance costs at traditional co-ops.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 4th, 2005, 04:13 PM
If this is going to be the Astoria thread then it needs to be renamed.

Tower 21
14 floors

Architect: Giannetti Architectural Services



http://www.gianetarch.com (http://www.gianetarch.com/)

June 25th, 2005, 12:03 PM
If tower 21 is the building on the corner of 21st and broadway, then I looked at an apt in that building. Nice building, great landlord. But the bedrooms were small. Had a very dorm feeling to it. I saw a 2bdrm in the Metroview next door and it was a lot nicer. Same price and you got bigger rooms and a balcony.

June 27th, 2005, 10:57 AM
If tower 21 is the building on the corner of 21st and broadway, then I looked at an apt in that building. Nice building, great landlord. But the bedrooms were small. Had a very dorm feeling to it. I saw a 2bdrm in the Metroview next door and it was a lot nicer. Same price and you got bigger rooms and a balcony.

21st street is seeing some good construction in the 12 story range, would like to see more, especially down by the 59th St. Bridge...ripe and a great location. Would also like to see "Old" Astoria preserved...some nive old houses there that are being torn down and replaced with crap.

May 3rd, 2007, 12:54 AM
$1000 a month/ 500 sq ft+/ 1 bedroom/ less than 3 blocks from subway


January 14th, 2008, 01:07 PM
25-82 37th STREET QUEENS

DOB New Building (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobDetailsServlet?requestid=6&allisn=0001118972&allboroughname=&allnumbhous=&allstrt=):

6 stories / 55' / 16 Units

Guilty Party, errrrr, ARCHITECT: Donna L Difara / WDA Architects & Planners


That's Rather Hideous:
Storming Astoria's Castle

CURBED (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/01/14/thats_rather_hideous_storming_astorias_castle.php# more)
January 14, 2008
by Joey


We don't know really know anything about this building,
dubbed the "Astoria Castle" by OuterB (http://www.outerb.com/?p=871), but we'll assume
the dragon keeps the maiden locked in the penthouse.


· Astoria Castle Gates (http://www.outerb.com/?p=871) [OuterB]


Astoria Castle Gates (http://www.outerb.com/?p=871)

OUTERB.com (http://www.outerb.com/?p=871http://)
January 14th, 2008
by MegC

Well, the “Astoria Castle” finally got its gates.
It does not improve things.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2139/2190666699_c9c9cce9c2.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcotner/2190666699/)

There’s more construction across the street.
Who knows what it’s going to look like in the end!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2291/2191453166_cf88a71acb.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcotner/2191453166/)


January 17th, 2008, 09:16 PM
Cool! A castle!

January 17th, 2008, 09:21 PM
^^Hey royal highness, was the castle your idea?;)

January 17th, 2008, 09:57 PM
I should try and get a place there, not quite Buckingham Palace though.

March 20th, 2008, 08:14 AM
Astoria's boarders to shred at skate park

daily news staff writer
Tuesday, March 18th 2008, 4:00 AM

Work on a $1.25 million skateboard park that a local Councilman has been trying to have built in Astoria Park (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Astoria+Park) for years is finally scheduled to get underway soon.

"This project will give kids a place to skate that is far away from the busy sidewalks and parks where they sometimes inconvenience other people, especially seniors," said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Peter+Vallone%2c+Jr.), who provided most of the funding.

Almost four years ago, Vallone (D-Astoria) noticed that a large parcel of land under the Triborough Bridge (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Triborough+Bridge) was fenced off and full of construction equipment.

Upon further investigation, Vallone discovered the land was leased by a construction firm. Once the lease expired, he petitioned the Parks Department not to renew it.

In July, the company was told to remove its equipment. The plot now sits as a vacant, open area primed for work to begin on the skateboarding facility.

Currently, skateboarders use Athens Square Park at 30th Ave. and 30th St., among other areas.

"I have been working to bring this project to Astoria (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Astoria+(New+York)) for a long time. It is fulfilling to see something go from an idea to a completion during my term as a Council member," Vallone said. "Before, all we had here was trucks and equipment. Now, we will have a great park for kids to come and have fun."

Queens (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Queens+County) Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the new park will offer the obstacles skateboarders crave while at the same time limiting the city's liability.

"What we are creating in Astoria Park replicates in many ways a lot of the municipal street furniture that kids skate on already. But this gives them a destination location where they can meet in a safe, secure environment," Lewandowski said.

The new skate plaza "will have ramps that have a maximum height of three feet, which for the city meets our criteria for limiting liabilities," she added.
"Anything over three feet requires that Parks have supervision and that it be gated and closed when we don't have park staff on duty."

Contractors are scheduled to break ground on the project in early May and expect to finish in nine months, Vallone said.

Located under the bridge and near Shore Blvd., the skate park site, he said, is situated far enough away so as not to disturb Astoria residents.

dbertrand@nydailynews.com (dbertrand@nydailynews.com)

Copyright 2008 The New York Daily News.

March 20th, 2008, 06:52 PM
I didn't think it was possible, but, low and behold a building uglier than a Kaufmann.

April 15th, 2008, 04:35 PM
Driving on the Queensboro bridge the other day I saw a building in lower Astoria with a swooping top. It looked decent. Maybe 20 storeys, anyone know anything about this project?

April 15th, 2008, 04:47 PM
Are you talking about the Astoria Grand Hotel (http://www.flickr.com/photos/liqcity/2341780744/) (another great view of it here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/liqcity/2341780036/) also) on the SE corner at 39th Ave. & 29th St. in Dutch Kills?

It's only 13 stories but even their NIMBY neighbors think it's too tall and is crying (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?p=216617) for a downzoning for the whole area. :mad:

And the damn city will do it too!

April 15th, 2008, 06:45 PM
Yes. Its very nice for that part of Queens.

April 15th, 2008, 07:43 PM
I see this from the subway, it has a decent design, would put alot in Manhattan to shame.

April 15th, 2008, 07:55 PM
Nowadays, Manhattan's look like this:


April 16th, 2008, 10:20 AM
Cant you see the genius in making one colour snake up the building?

April 29th, 2008, 07:25 PM
Green(er) power plant coming to Queens

By Erik Engquist
April 29.2008 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080429/FREE/647711309/-1/) 2:55PM

Plans for a new 500-megawatt power plant in Queens were approved Tuesday by the New York Power Authority.

The natural gas-burning facility in Astoria, which will provide enough electricity to serve the equivalent of a half-million homes, will substantially reduce airborne emissions by replacing energy supplied by aging, high-polluting plants.

Authority trustees gave Astoria Energy a green light to build the plant at a waterfront site by authorizing a 20-year supply contract. The company will sell power from the new plant to city and state agencies, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pending final negotiations of the contract and approval from the governmental customers.

The project enjoys the support of environmental groups, business organizations and construction trade associations. The plant will be built next to Astoria Energy’s 500-megawatt plant on Steinway Street, a mile west of La Guardia Airport. The existing plant, completed in 2006 on a 23-acre brownfield site, uses half of the capacity allowed by a license granted in 2001. It supplies Consolidated Edison.

The new plant will consume 30% less fuel than a conventional power plant and use hot exhaust normally lost in the combustion process to produce additional electricity.

“We think it’s a good project,” says Ashok Gupta, air and energy program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It will mean less pollution, lower electricity bills.”

Adds Marcia Bystryn, executive director of the New York League of Conservation Voters: “You’re not going to have to rely, during peak use, on facilities that are really dirty.”

Astoria Energy was selected from among 30 energy suppliers that responded last fall to a request for proposals issued by the Power Authority. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/images/diamond.gif

© 2008 Crain Communications, Inc.

June 11th, 2008, 09:54 PM
A Big New York City Movie Studio Is Getting Bigger

An architect’s rendering of the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, after its expansion.

Published: June 11, 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/business/media/11studio.html)

Kaufman Astoria Studios, one of New York City’s three largest movie studios, is moving ahead with a major expansion plan, nine years after it was announced.

The studio, in the Astoria section of Queens, will break ground this fall on a $20 million building, with an 18,000-square-foot soundstage and 22,000 square feet of support space, on a plot of land diagonally across 36th Street from its current building, which is between 34th and 35th Avenues.

Eventually, the studio intends to shut off 36th Street and erect a gate to create a studio lot — a compound with indoor and outdoor sets — and to construct a tower that would combine a hotel and office space directly behind the new soundstage.

Astoria Studios is not the only New York movie studio that is expanding: Two years ago, Silvercup Studios, in Long Island City, Queens, announced that it would build a $1 billion complex on the East River waterfront, south of the Queensboro Bridge. It is to have eight new soundstages, production and support space, two towers with 1,000 apartments, an office tower and stores.

Construction has been delayed, however, by problems involving the removal of generators, owned by the New York Power Authority, on the site. Stuart Match Suna, Silvercup Studios’ president, said he hoped this matter would be resolved in time for work to begin next year.

The newest of the big three studios, the four-year-old Steiner Studios, is renovating a 289,000-square-foot building adjacent to its current soundstages in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for use as production and office space. It also announced last November that it had joined forces with the Navy Yard to transform a 20-acre segment of the yard into a media and entertainment center that would also contain a studio lot.

All the development is intended to take advantage of tax incentives offered by the city and state governments.

To lure film production away from other states and Canada, the New York State Legislature four years ago approved a 10 percent tax credit on certain production costs, primarily for blue-collar technicians and crew members, and a 5 percent credit from New York City. These tax breaks — which are applied toward state and city income taxes — were sweetened in April, when the Legislature tripled the state tax incentive to 30 percent.

George S. Kaufman, a developer of New York City office and showroom space, has leased Astoria Studios, which dates to the 1920s silent-picture era, from the city government since 1982. A 10-minute subway ride from Manhattan, the studio’s original 300,000-square-foot building holds six soundstages, a recording studio and 50,000 square feet of office space.

The neighborhood around the original studio building has many related buildings, including a 63,000-square-foot loft building, at 35th Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets, that Mr. Kaufman converted to offices five years ago. Directly across 35th Avenue is a multiplex theater.

Other buildings in the neighborhood also have links to the creative arts. The Museum of the Moving Image, across 36th Street from the original studio building, is undergoing a $65 million renovation and expansion.

In addition, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a high school established in 2001, will move next January into a new building on 35th Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets, on land also previously leased by Astoria Studios.

Astoria Studios announced plans to build a new soundstage and support space in 1999, but Hal G. Rosenbluth, its president, said it had delayed going forward because “as 9/11 happened, some of our financing came into question.” He added: “Production tax credits later came into play, and the city was able to resurrect some of the financing that was set earlier.”

Mr. Kaufman said Astoria Studios would embark on the public review process required to “demap” 36th Street, in order to create a studio lot, once construction begins on the new soundstage in the fall. He estimated the lot would cost about $2 million.

Later, he would like to construct the new hotel and office building behind the new soundstage. The tower is expected to be as big as 150,000 square feet and 18 stories high; this is now in the planning stage.

Government officials and film industry observers generally laud Astoria Studios’ expansion plans. In the last month, the studio announced that it would be used for two new television series: ABC’s “Life on Mars,” about a time-traveling detective, and HBO’s “Last of the Ninth,” a police drama. A remake of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” originally made in 1974, is currently being produced there.

“There is a growing competitive awareness that the space you are offering for TV and film production needs to be upgraded in quantity and upgraded in quality,” said Rosemary Scanlon, associate professor of economics at the Real Estate Institute of New York University and former chief economist of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Ms. Scanlon estimates that television and film production is responsible for $6.6 billion of the total $21.2 billion generated by the arts in New York’s economy.

She said Astoria Studios’ plans for mixed-use development could “help offset the risk of putting investment in soundstages.” She said: “Once you build the facility, then it’s a marketing process. Studio space is like inventory; you have to market it every time it becomes vacant.”

Pat Swinney Kaufman, executive director of the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development, said the film industry “can absolutely absorb” the expansions by the three movie studios. (Ms. Kaufman is not related to George S. Kaufman.)

Michael N. Gianaris, a Democratic state assemblyman from Queens, predicted the new development would be “an integral part of the continued success of Long Island City and Astoria. It’s an area of the city growing by leaps and bounds; many of us believe it will be the next big business district for the city.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

September 10th, 2008, 01:30 AM
Can anyone identify this building going up in what looks like Astoria, Queens. This a shot from northern Roosevelt Is.


September 10th, 2008, 05:20 AM
Yes, that is 11-24 31st Ave (bet. 12 St and Vernon Blvd).

It is located on the back (parking/open) lot of the former Adirondack Furniture Co.

It is 20 stories with 80 units. More from A Fine Blog here (http://afinecompany.blogspot.com/2008/06/from-lic-north-20-story-condo-tower.html).

September 10th, 2008, 10:52 AM

October 20th, 2008, 05:55 PM
NY Times

Striking a New Chord


Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
RETUNED IN ASTORIA The old Sohmer piano factory — which, along with the former Steinway & Sons plant, is starting a new life as a condominium.

By JOYCE COHEN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/joyce_cohen/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 17, 2008

Sales have begun at the Pistilli Grand Manor condominium, erected in the early 1900s as one of the neighborhood’s two Steinway & Sons factories.

It was later used as a warehouse for Stern’s, the former regional department-store chain. The 201 units, developed by the Pistilli Realty Group, include studios, one- and two-bedrooms, with an average cost of around $440 per square foot.

The building has garnered online criticism for its relatively low-end fixtures. “We used a moderate kitchen and appliances,” said Joseph Pistilli, the developer. Otherwise, prices would be much higher, he said, adding that people can upgrade to their own taste — and that in this market, prices are negotiable.

Nearly 20 units have been sold or are in contract, said the selling agent, Charles Sciberras of Realty Executives Today, who has posted pictures at pistilligrandmanor.com (http://pistilligrandmanor.com/). A trilevel garage will have more than 300 parking spaces, renting for $150 to $200 a month.

The units are sunny, as the windows “are the size of doors,” Mr. Sciberras said, and it’s unlikely there will ever be tall surrounding structures to block the light. As for parking, “in our neck of the woods, that is a big selling point.”

Now with a glass awning, the building has a laundry room on each floor as well as a shared gym and garden. The ground floor will have retail and commercial space. Community Board 1 has already signed on as one tenant.

After Stern’s began its long decline, there was talk of turning the building — which has been vacant for nearly three decades — into an all-night supermarket, or into rental or retiree housing. Plans stalled 10 years ago when Nikos Kefalides, then the building’s owner, died in the crash of Swissair Flight 111. The Pistillis bought it from his estate.

Astoria’s other piano factory, simply called the Piano Factory Condominiums, was formerly owned by Sohmer & Company. The condo-conversion plan is awaiting approval by the state attorney general, with sales expected to begin sometime in the winter, according to the developer, Angelo Acquista of the TTW Realty Group.

There will be around 70 apartments, from studios to three-bedrooms. The cost will most likely start around $650 per square foot, with penthouses reaching $900 per square foot. There will be a gym and pet spa; each unit will have a washer-dryer hookup.

A two-story underground structure behind the building will provide parking for around $200 a month. Sales will be handled by Shawn Williams and Violet Boe of Prudential Douglas Elliman. Prospective buyers can sign up for information at Pianofactorycondos.com (http://pianofactorycondos.com/).

The building, circa 1886, is known for its mansard-roofed clock tower. After Sohmer was sold in 1982, the property was acquired by the Adirondack Chair Company, a wholesaler of office and institutional furniture, and sold to TTW Realty three years ago. (Sohmer pianos are now made in Korea.)

Over the last quarter-century, there were several failed attempts to confer landmark status on the building; that goal was finally achieved last year. Its German Romanesque Revival style includes “window patterns and monumental brick facades” that convey “a solid image,” according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The clock has been restored, Mr. Acquista said, and is now “accurate to the second.”

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 20th, 2008, 07:33 PM
I live in Astoria, its nice to see some of these old places getting renovated.

October 21st, 2008, 05:06 AM
October 20. 2008 2:33PM

New sound stage for New York

Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens broke ground Monday on its long-awaited expansion.

Miriam Kreinin Souccar (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=55)

http://cnimg.sv.publicus.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=CN&Date=20081020&Category=FREE&ArtNo=810209990&Ref=AR&Profile=1084&maxw=319&border=0 Courtesy: Kaufman Astoria Studios

After nine years of delays, Kaufman Astoria Studios—one of New York City’s largest film and television studios—on Monday broke ground on a $20 million expansion.

The new building, which will be located diagonally across the street from Kaufman Astoria’s current building in Astoria, Queens, will house an 18,000-square-foot sound stage and 22,000 square feet of office and other support space like dressing rooms and a carpentry shop. It will be the studio’s seventh stage.

The project was made possible through a $5 million grant from the city, administered through a funding agreement with the New York City Economic Development Corp., and $2 million in grants and loans from the New York State Empire State Development Corp.

“The importance of diversifying our economy is more obvious today than ever, and continued investment in New York City’s entertainment industry is one of the ways we’ve been doing it,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a statement.

The expansion comes amid a major production boom in New York City, thanks to the state’s decision last April to triple to 30% its tax incentive on production. The incentives have pushed a number of television shows and movies to choose New York over other locales. This season, for example, Ugly Betty—a TV show that is set in New York but had been produced in Los Angeles—relocated to New York. ABC’s new show Life on Mars and Showtime’s new series, Nurse Jackie, are currently filming at Kaufman Astoria.

Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Astoria, originally announced plans for the building in 1999, but had to put them on hold after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.


© 2008 Crain Communications, Inc.

May 1st, 2009, 11:10 PM
There are a ridiculous amount of condos rising in Astoria. Too many to post.

but the park is nice...



The Astoria skyline?


May 1st, 2009, 11:20 PM
looks like the beginnings some scandinavian district :cool:

The Astoria skyline?

May 2nd, 2009, 03:34 AM
Good to see shots of Astoria!!!! Its my neighborhood, go to that park all the time! :D

August 15th, 2009, 10:47 PM
11-24 31st Avenue is looking great. I love the spiraling crown and the curved bricks. Its one of the better residential built in the entire City in the last decade. Astoria has two great projects that have really gone under the radar, this and the Dutch Kills Holiday Inn. I wonder how units are selling at this one though, its near Socrates Park but the location leaves alot to be desired, its still mostly industrial and not in the immediate vicinity of the subway.

August 16th, 2009, 08:46 PM
I think Astoria Park is a major park in need of renovation. Considering all the money going into new waterfront parks, it seems renovation and maintenance of existing parks ought to have some priority.

January 12th, 2010, 12:49 AM
Studio City: Film production center Kaufman Astoria Studios writes script for growth in nabe

BY Jason Sheftell

Some New York neighborhoods rely on economic engines. Manhattan’s Flatiron has Union Square and shopping up and down lower Fifth Ave.

Others need vision, like downtown Brooklyn with Atlantic Yards, a basketball stadium and zoning that favors residential towers.

What happens, though, when a neighborhood has both? The answer lies in a pocket of Astoria surrounding the Kaufman Astoria Studios, the city’s oldest functioning movie studio.

In the past three years, this amenity-filled micro-neighborhood around 34th and 36th Aves. and 33rd and 35th Sts. has turned into one of the city’s top real estate success stories. It has a 14-theater multiplex, the city’s newest performing arts high school, national and local restaurants, including the Studio Square beer garden, and the Museum of the Moving Image, an underrated institution undergoing a $60 million renovation. Real estate values on brick or wood attached homes are stable at $625,000, with three-bedroom rentals trading at $2,300. Growth continues in the area, which has managed to avoid “hipster” stigmas and real estate crashes. The hulking gray full block movie studio clearly dominates the vicinity.

On a freezing Saturday, streets are crowded with locals, families from other boroughs and tourists enjoying what a few years back was a warehouse-driven neighborhood. If you blink, celebrities like Edie Falco, star of Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” currently filming its second season at the studio, might walk by.

This transition didn’t happen overnight, and most locals, even those who’ve lived there 10 years, don’t know how this neighborhood came to be.

“The Museum of the Moving Image is a real asset,” says Nancy Silverman, a
13-year Astoria resident who went to graduate school at NYU. “I see independent films there. I don’t think the studio has much of an impact, though.”

Silverman, like many neighbors, was surprised to find out Kaufman Astoria Studios controlled the land the museum sits on and was responsible for bringing most of the retail and culture to the area.

As part of real estate developer George Kaufman’s original vision, the studio and sound stages became the engine for neighborhood growth. Acting as a movie studio and a real estate company, Kaufman owns 42,000 square feet of retail space, and is planning a hotel and residential complex to fill out the once deserted area. In addition, Kaufman owned the land where the performing arts high school, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, sits.

“The studio is the revenue generator for the entire area,” says Kaufman Astoria president Hal G. Rosenbluth. “The idea was to make film production viable in New York City again, and then merge the studio with the neighborhood. When we took over in 1980, we couldn’t get anyone to cross the Queensboro Bridge. It’s easier now. Sure, we could have sold the land the school was on for $8 million. But a school, what’s better for an area than that? The credit goes to George [Kaufman]. He understood that the studio could be a catalyst for reinvigorating development for the entire community.”

George Kaufman took over the studio in 1980. A kid from the lower East Side who started developing real estate in New York City in his early 20s, Kaufman got his start in the business land-banking real estate in Burbank, Calif., for Warner Bros. Similar in concept to the Century City residential, retail and commercial settlement near a movie studio in central Los Angeles, the Burbank strategy intended to intertwine real estate with a film studio and area growth. When the studio changed leadership, Kaufman was given $2 million for his work and began investing in his hometown, New York.

“I bought buildings all over the city and started leasing commercial space in Manhattan,” says Kaufman, whose Kaufman Organization owns over 5 million square feet of New York real estate. “It wasn’t as if I was waiting to buy a movie studio, but when it came available, I thought I could do some good.”

At the time, Astoria Studios was in disrepair. Having been declared a landmark by the state in 1976, it barely escaped being torn down to make way for affordable housing. Silent movies with Rudolph Valentino and talking comedies with the Marx Brothers filmed there in the 1920s and ’30s. From 1942-70, the Army took over the studio, producing propaganda films from World War II to Vietnam. When the Army gave up the facility, it became abandoned, practically halting residential improvement in the area. Kaufman wanted that to change.

“Everyone wants to be near a movie studio,” says Kaufman, who was recently named a “Living” New York City Landmark. “It’s sexy. I saw that in California. A key was getting the city and state to make it less expensive to make movies with tax credits. Once the studio was up, we could focus on working on the neighborhood.”

An early movie made under Kaufman was “The Cotton Club” (1984), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It filmed while Kaufman repaired the building. More top directors followed, including Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. The upgrade to the area came later, as it took Kaufman’s team time to bring in such national chains as Applebee’s and Starbucks, a 14-screen United Artists multiplex and a gym called Evolution, where John Travolta worked out while filming last year’s “Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.”

“This area has seen an explosion, and we haven’t taken as much of a hit by the recession,” says Astoria native Mario Tsikis, owner/broker of Citi Zone Realty, who moved his office across the street from the studio because of the area’s growth potential. “Four years ago, no one wanted to live here. Now they ask for it specifically.”

Residents agree. Actress Erin Outlund has lived in four Astoria apartments in three years. She now lives on 35th St. near 34th Ave., a street she waited for because of its proximity to central Astoria and location between several subway lines and near the movie theater.

“Three years ago I lived by 36th Ave. and it was sketchy and dark,” says Outlund, whose roommate has been a stand-in for several productions filmed at Kaufman. “It’s not that way anymore.”

While local businesses such as Studio Square, a beer garden that opened two years ago on 36th St., prosper, an area towards Queens Plaza characterized by the city as an “Industrial Business Zone” feels out of place and barren. Rumors of a street closing to secure the studio within a private lot concern some locals. Painting the history of the movie studio on its giant walls could make some streets more inviting.

“The old guard wants things to stay the same, but the newcomers come here for the amenities and the excitement,” says Tsikis. “We’re the same 10-minute train ride to midtown as Williamsburg is to downtown but we’re half the price. That’s reason enough to look here.”

Keeping with the area’s history, traditional businesses such as furniture repair, embroidery, limousine services and auto body shops still maintain a presence. Not only do business owners value the increase in pedestrian traffic and proximity to midtown, they see the area growing as have other New York neighborhoods that have undergone zoning changes favoring mixed-use residential and commercial, as parts of this one may.

“I was in Chelsea 20 years ago when no one would go there but prostitutes,” says FIT professor Eli Rios, an Astoria resident who owns E.C.R. Antique Conservation and Restoration, and the Aurora Gallery, the area’s first art space. “This place got rid of that years back. We have vintage stores. Kaufman Studios started it all. In five years, all these buildings will be bought up and *everyone will want to be here.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2010/01/08/2010-01-08_studio_city_film_production_center_kaufman_asto ria_studios_writes_script_for_gro.html#ixzz0cNGKXA OL

January 24th, 2010, 09:07 PM
diffusedmind (http://www.flickr.com/photos/22128376@N04/4298983615/)

January 24th, 2010, 09:12 PM
I really like that building. Funny one of the best residential's in the entire City is in Astoria.

January 24th, 2010, 09:38 PM
And socialite Amanda Burden and her stooges over at City Planning made sure there'll be no more of that by rezoning and putting height limits in Astoria. :mad:

January 24th, 2010, 11:18 PM
The ironic thing is that, yes, the first "finger building" in a neighborhood does look awkward. But when you have more, an area gets filled in and looks better.

Sadly, Burden & Co. see the emergence of one finger in any neighborhood to mean that all forthcoming tall buildings will be equally awkward and out of place. In fact, the more you have, the better the entire tout ensemble usually looks. So by downzoning to prevent fingers, you're guaranteeing that the existing fingers remain fingers rather than becoming a better-integrated part of the neighborhood's built environment.

January 24th, 2010, 11:59 PM
She did that because of neighborhood pressure.

January 25th, 2010, 10:40 PM
King of Astoria Skyline Gets a Little Bit Cheaper

January 25, 2010, by Joey


It's no surprise that one of Queens' tallest and most expensive new condo buildings is on the water facing Manhattan, but here's the shocker: It's not in Long Island City. The building is at 11-24 31st Avenue in a quiet corner of Astoria near Socrates Sculpture Park, and if a finger building is a tall and skinny creation that sticks out over its neighbors, then this is a whole fist. Blog liQcity has been following the East River Tower, recently writing: "This sharply angled monolith is visible from miles away, especially Manhattan, and is the highest point in the LIC/Astoria skyline. Active sales listings show asking prices of roughly $772/SF. Quite steep for that area..." Maybe the reps were reading: Prices were just cut on nearly all of the 38 active listings, but only by about 10%, according to StreetEasy. Prices now range from $385,000 for a 700-square-foot 1BR to $1.195 million for the big-ticket stuff. The views are out of control, but there's a bit of a fish-out-of-water vibe, no?

11-24 31st Avenue (http://streeteasy.com/nyc/building/31-avenue-astoria) [StreetEasy]
11-24 31st Avenue (http://www.metropolisrealtynewyork.com/) [Metropolis Realty]

http://curbed.com/archives/2010/01/25/king_of_astoria_skyline_gets_a_little_bit_cheaper. php

January 31st, 2010, 06:04 AM
Does anyone know of the height limit that they placed in Astoria, how high it is? :mad:

January 31st, 2010, 07:42 AM
The height limits vary from 24 feet (about 2 stories) to 80 feet (about 8 stories) depending on the street/area.

In general, smaller side streets get downzoned in FAR and shorter height limits placed on them and wider boulevards maybe get a slight upzoned in FAR and the higher height limit of 8 stories.

Remember, there were no height limits before.

That is generally what City Planning under socialite Amanda Burden have done to most of the city with their rezonings.

You can read all about it here (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/astoria/astoria3.shtml).

February 3rd, 2010, 05:12 AM
Queens Crap, indeed :eek::


February 3rd, 2010, 08:43 AM
I detest that stepping down feature, where the first floor is sunk into the ground. You also see that in a number of apartment buildings from the 60's & 70's -- almost all of which have a walled / fenced area to either side of the entry, blocking off the sunken "plaza" that fronts the sidewalk and creating a dead zone along the property line (except, as seen, the lovely display of garbage receptacles).

February 3rd, 2010, 12:48 PM
That building is just the tip of the iceberg. Astoria probably has the most attrocious new buildings in the city.

February 3rd, 2010, 01:10 PM
For sure. Its my Big Greek Wedding meets architecture. Nothing but shiny silver covered columns, plastic friezes and pediments, turrets, you name it. Plastic Parthenons for the wealthiest Greeks.

February 3rd, 2010, 01:13 PM

Dozens (probably 100's) of buildings like this that seem to go out of their way to appear as ridiculous as possible.

Tasteless developers and architects.
How much more expensive could putting up something like this be?

February 5th, 2010, 10:29 PM
^ Agreed. The building in that first photo is scary, and I don't mean because it has faux battlements :rolleyes:.

Old Astoria House Meets New Astoria ... Something


Haven't we seen this Astoria house of horrors before? We couldn't find it in the archives, but there can only be so many houses so photogenically trapped by storefronts and encroaching development in one neighborhood.

Even if we've chatted about this little guy there's still the matter of the big new dude next door. It's 31-19 Newtown Avenue, from New York City's most popular unknown architect Gerald Caliendo. The developer is prolific Queens builder Pistilli Realty, known for stirring up strong emotions and the occasional botchjob. A building permit circa '06 said this would be a 10-story health care facility, but it certainly has that faux-loft look, and numerous complaints and violations during construction have referred to the building as residential. So what's the 411, Astoria tipsters? We're sure the neighbors are curious.

Photo: New and Old On Newtown Avenue (http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyone/4327226339/in/pool-curbed) [Curbed Photo Pool]


February 8th, 2010, 03:05 PM
That photo above is a block away from my house. Ha.

January 5th, 2013, 03:39 AM
The Halletts Point development in Astoria – overview and photos

by Meg Cotner

Image source: Lincoln Equities

The Halletts Point development has been back in the news recently. First, what is Halletts Point? It’s a new development planned for the waterfront along the land mass called Hallett’s Point, a peninsula that juts out into the East River (GMAP (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=hallets+point,+astoria&hl=en&hnear=Hallets+Point&gl=us&t=m&z=15)) just south of Astoria Park. It is home to the Astoria Houses, Build it Green! and a few other businesses (including the mysterious Hellgate Filming Studios), and Whitey Ford Field.

Here are some of the elements in this development:

Lincoln Equities is the developer.
Costs are estimated at $1 billion
The development could create jobs though construction and later, retail.
The mixed-use development is slated to have eight buildings on ten acres.
Three of the buildings would be on existing NYCHA property (Astoria Houses)
Seven of the buildings would be residential, containing 2,200 apartments
20% of the units would be affordable housing, geared toward seniors.
The other 80% of the units would be market rate housing.
Heights of the buildings would range from 20 to 40 stories.
Other elements of the development could include a K-8 public school; retail, including a supermarket (http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2012/47/halletsrezone_at_2012_11_22_q.html), drug store and restaurants; and a landscaped public esplanade along the East River.
An on-street bus layover facility would be built to accommodate increased transit needs.
Some streets would be remapped.
A water taxi dock (maybe an East River Ferry (http://queensnyc.com/2012/12/east-river-ferry-service-may-become-permanent-request-for-proposals-issued/) stop?) is also a possibility.
Parking is planned for the development.

Here’s a drawing of the map of the area with the Halletts Point development in place:


The following image shows the location of the buildings a little clearer (click to enlarge):

http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/halletts-point-development-buildings-astoria-queens-e1357266493850.jpg (http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/halletts-point-development-buildings-astoria-queens.jpg)
Image source: NYC.gov

Here’s yet another view, which gives a little sense of depth (click to enlarge):

http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/halletts-point-development-buildings-drawing-angle-astoria-queens-e1357268552690.jpg (http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/halletts-point-development-buildings-drawing-angle-astoria-queens.jpg)
Image source: NYC.gov

A document called Halletts Point Rezoning Environmental Impact Statement Draft Scope of Work (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/env_review/halletts_point/draft_scope.pdf) was released and it is chock full of information about the site and the plans for the development and area. Here is a segment from this (quite long) document that talks about the site in more detail, and gives you an idea of the area as it is now.

The WF [Waterfront] Parcel, Eastern Parcel, and Buildings 6, 7, and 8 on the NYCHA Parcel comprise a total of approximately 420,000 sf (9.65 acres); Buildings 1 through 5 on the WF and Eastern Parcels are approximately 343,000 sf (7.87 acres, including land underwater) and Buildings 6 through 8 on the NYCHA Parcel are approximately 92,659 sf (2.13 acres). The Eastern Parcel is occupied by an electronics and ink toner company, who is expected to vacate. The WF Parcel contains three building structures and three open lots. It is predominantly vacant but portions of this waterfront parcel have been leased to two tenants for construction and telecommunications storage and parking on a short-term or month-to-month lease agreement.

The waterfront along the project site consists of structural bulkheads and soil embankments armored with large stone rip-rap or construction debris. An existing platform and bulkhead extend approximately 175 feet north from the southern tip of the site. The bulkhead and platform are in good overall structural condition. The remainder of the waterfront along the waterfront parcel consists of a soil embankment lined with large stone rip-rap. Buildings 1 through 5 are currently zoned M1-1 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_m1.shtml), permitting light industrial uses subject to performance standards common to all M1 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_m1.shtml) districts.

Buildings 6 through 8 are zoned R6 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_r6.shtml) and contain parking lots, trash compactors, walkways, and a small amount of landscaped area within the Astoria Houses campus. The Astoria Houses contains 22 six- and seven-story residential buildings on an approximately 27-acre campus with a total of 1,103 residential units, as well as surface parking lots, a day care center and senior center, basketball courts and playgrounds, walkways, and other landscaped areas. The campus was completed in 1951. The NYCHA Rezoning Area is also located within the Astoria Houses campus.

Whitey Ford Field is an approximately 3.6-acre park bounded by the East River, 26th Avenue, and 2nd Street, containing a baseball field, bleachers, and open lawn area. It is under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), although it is not mapped parkland. Whitey Ford Field is currently zoned R6 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zh_r6.shtml). The Parks Parcel consists of a portion of the Hallet’s Cove Playground, which contains an asphalt baseball field and basketball courts. The approximately 10-foot wide alienated Parks Parcel that would be incorporated as part of the project includes a number of trees, the park perimeter fence, and a portion of the perimeter sidewalk and baseball field back stop area. The Parks Parcel would be incorporated in the NYCHA Astoria Houses campus as part of the proposed project.

Back in December, there was a public scoping session (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/env_review/halletts_point/scoping_notice.pdf) at the Goodwill Astoria Headquarters (GMAP (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=4-21+27th+Avenue&hnear=4-21+27th+Ave,+Queens,+New+York+11102&gl=us&t=m&z=16)), which is located in the Astoria Houses. The next step for the development is to go through the city’s formal Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which Linh Do, of the consulting firm AKRF (http://www.akrf.com/), believes will happen in February 2013. After that, Community Board 1 will preside over the ULURP. If all goes well, the developers could break ground as early as 2014. The project could be completed by 2022, nine years from now.

An artist’s rendering of the Halletts Point development

Local opinions about the development range from support, neutrality, and caution. Bishop Mitchell Taylor, who is among other things, CEO of the East River Development Alliance (ERDA), a not-for-profit that he founded (2004) “to expand economic opportunity for public housing residents,” supports the development (http://www.qgazette.com/news/2012-12-19/Features/DCP_Hosts_Meeting_On_Mixed_Use_Complex.html) and said, “The project is only going to enhance (public housing’s) footprint.” Community Board 1 has not taken a position on the proposal. Senator Michael Gianaris, (he represents Halletts Point), supports the project (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120628/astoria/massive-hallets-point-development-project-gets-boost-from-state), though is concerned that existing services and infrastructure could be stressed. Still, he says the growth “helps boost our economy by attracting more jobs as well as residents to fill them.” Astoria City Councilman Peter Vallone hasn’t taken a side (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/ambitious-residential-commercial-project-proposed-astoria-waterfront-article-1.995065), though (however, his father, Vallone Sr., is a consultant to the developer).

Transit and transportation issues are something to consider - the developers have included parking the plan, and it sounds like additional bus service is planned (one of the buses that travels there now is the Q103 (http://queensnyc.com/2012/09/the-q103-in-lic-and-astoria-art-bus-and-transit-lifeline/), and this development could be enough to extend its schedule). But will that be enough public transportation? This patch of land is located over a mile from the closest N/Q subway stop, so direct subway access is not likely a practical form of transportation for residents here (bus to subway is the current option). Perhaps they will also implement a subway shuttle – Shore Towers (GMAP (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=shore+towers+astoria&ll=40.778592,-73.929083&spn=0.008287,0.015943&fb=1&gl=us&hq=shore+towers&hnear=0x89c25f36e7b5a553:0x9c0aafc4ac84110e,Astori a,+Queens,+NY&cid=0,0,15458846442299935872&t=m&z=16&iwloc=A)), the established development just south of Astoria Park, has done such a thing.

On the subject of transportation, there are plans to adjust the streets in this area. Again, from the Halletts Point Rezoning Environmental Impact Statement Draft Scope of Work (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/env_review/halletts_point/draft_scope.pdf) document. Most notably, Astoria Boulevard would be connected through the Astoria Houses:

A portion of 27th Avenue, located west of 1st Street and currently used as accessory parking for adjacent businesses, would be demapped and transformed into a pedestrian waterfront access corridor. The portion of 26th Avenue west of 1st Street would also be demapped and transformed into a pedestrian waterfront access corridor. In addition, a new connecting street segment between existing mapped portions of Astoria Boulevard is proposed on the NYCHA parcel. Between 1st Street and 8th Street, Astoria Boulevard would be two-directional with one lane in either direction. Parking may be added along some segments of the street, depending on required street widths and the location of existing mature trees.
To the north, 26th Avenue would become one-way eastbound between 1st and 2nd Streets. Between 26th and 27th Avenues, 1st Street would become one way northbound and 2nd Street would become one-way southbound. Third and 4th Streets would remain unchanged in their directionality between 26th and 27th Avenues.

Here is an image of the proposed street network changes (click to enlarge):

http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/change-to-streets-halletts-point-astoria-queens-e1357269090499.jpg (http://queensnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/change-to-streets-halletts-point-astoria-queens.jpg)
Image source: NYC.gov

Currently, it’s a pretty desolate part of Astoria (apart from the housing project), and we would guess that a lot of Astorians haven’t made it out that far. Build It Green! and Whitey Ford Field are there, and of course the Astoria Houses. We took a walk out there and snapped some shots – we found lots of quiet, a few buildings under construction, a couple of stray dogs roaming the streets, and a homeless man occupying one of the vacant lots. Here is more of what we saw.

The long view along 26th Avenue toward the waterfront

The western end of 26th Avenue – Whitey Ford Field to the right

Neighboring Whitey Ford Field

Looking east from Halletts Point

The nearby Hellgate Filming Studios

More of the industrial neighborhood surrounding the area

The view from the water’s edge, looking out to Manhattan

The lot on which the north end of the Halletts Point development will sit. To the left out of sight is a small homeless camp

Another view of the location of the Halletts Point development

Looking south from Halletts Point (Big Allis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Allis) power plant stacks are in the distance)

The nearby Astoria Houses

Looking west along 27th Avenue – note the newer building on the right

Looking back toward Halletts Point from Shore Towers


January 5th, 2013, 02:50 PM
That area is so far past anything I just don't know how they expect people to want to live there. Oh.. AND it's across from the projects. Subway shuttle is obvious, as in a water taxi stop. Good luck!

January 5th, 2013, 02:59 PM
There's also a bike path. You can be in Midtown in a sweaty 30 minutes.

January 5th, 2013, 06:07 PM
This is a mile from the nearest subway station. It's actually an incredibly bad place to develop housing. Even so, 2200 apartments, with an expected occupancy of 1.6 or so (the same average occupancy of new-ish LIC) is a reasonable amount of people. The problem with much of it being affordable, is that the people who will be in affordable housing wont be able to afford the ferry (and there SHOULD be a ferry stop).

A different idea, perhaps: It's a straight shot Astoria Blvd to the subway though, and because it's wide, it might be worthwhile to try and force the developer to build a street car connection. At a single mile of track, it can be built for about 30-50 million. While that's not cheap, it's barely an additional 5% of the project costs. They could save money by building a ton less parking and call it a day. There'd be good money in fares from other residential in the neighborhood using the same service. Some of the revenues could even be bonded to the developer from the MTA, who would presumably assume service to keep it to 1 fare. Another 2.5 miles of the route and it's a rail connection to LGA too.

January 6th, 2013, 08:47 PM
The problem with much of it being affordable, is that the people who will be in affordable housing wont be able to afford the ferry (and there SHOULD be a ferry stop).

Affordable housing doesn't mean low-income housing. It only means that there's some type of income restriction tied to regional median incomes.

For example, in Long Island City, some of the newer affordable housing tops out at around $160,000 household annual salary. Sometimes the income limited housing has higher rents than the market rate housing, so the developers have to cut the affordable rents to match the market rents (otherwise, obviously these units would go empty and the developer loses the tax benefit).

I think this development will do well, BTW. Great waterfront location, and there are already successful older condos in the area. Lots of people don't want to live in super-busy locations, and Astoria is hot.

February 9th, 2013, 12:38 AM
Queens Loses a Street and Gains a Slice of Hollywood

Courtesy of Kaufman
Astoria Studios Paris in the foreground; Astoria, Queens, in the background.
This was the scene along 36th Street in the summer of 1929 as “The Gay Lady” (retitled “The Battle of Paris”) was being filmed.

Dust off the Duesenberg. New York is getting two new studio gates.

David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
A detail of the original 1920 Astoria studio building.

The gates will close off a one-block stretch of 36th Street in Astoria, Queens, allowing Kaufman Astoria Studios (http://www.kaufmanastoria.com/timeline.php) to consolidate its complex on either side of the street. This will allow the studio to create — in the former roadway itself — a 34,800-square-foot back lot, almost exactly where many outdoor scenes were filmed in the 1920s and ’30s for movies that are themselves long forgotten.

“When you think of going to a studio, you expect to pull up to a gate,” said Hal G. Rosenbluth, the president of Kaufman Astoria. “This will become an iconic symbol for the area.”

The historical heart of Kaufman Astoria complex is an enormous studio building on 35th Avenue that was opened in 1920 by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, the predecessor to Paramount Pictures. Directly behind this building was a back lot, now occupied by soundstages and offices, that was used for dozens of movies produced or distributed by Paramount until 1939.

The last great exterior set built at Astoria was for “One Third of a Nation (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/36443/One-Third-of-a-Nation/details),” an adaptation of a rabble-rousing Federal Theater Project play, said Richard Koszarski, author of “Hollywood on the Hudson (http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu/acatalog/Hollywood_on_the_Hudson_PB.html): Film and Television in New York From Griffith to Sarnoff” (2008). The director, Dudley Murphy, originally planned to shoot on location on the Lower East Side, Mr. Koszarski said, “but because the script called for the character played by young Sidney Lumet to burn down one of these tenements, Murphy decided to construct his own slum on the Astoria back lot.”

Another memorable set was a Parisian streetscape, complete with kiosks, for “The Battle of Paris (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/84494/The-Battle-of-Paris/overview)” (1929), about an English singer in Paris during World War I. Originally titled “The Gay Lady,” it starred Gertrude Lawrence and featured original music by Cole Porter. Filming began on the outdoor set every evening at 8 o’clock, The New York Times reported (http://www.scribd.com/doc/124353002/Gay-Miss-Lawrence-the-New-York-Times-July-7-1929).

“Night work was imperative in such a scene because of the available silence that reigns in Astoria between dusk and dawn,” The Times said. “Sometimes the company remained at the studio until 7 in the morning, continually working, with but a few moments’ rest for a sandwich.”

David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
The original studio building, at 35th Avenue, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A gate will be built on 36th Street, at the right of the photo. The original back lot was directly behind this structure, on 34th Avenue.

The new back lot will be 60 feet wide and 580 feet long, running from 35th Avenue to 34th Avenue. Studio executives and city officials envision it as an alternative to some of the location filming that snarls neighborhoods and tests New Yorkers’ patience. It would offer filmmakers a controlled outdoor environment on which temporary sets could be constructed, stunts and car chases could be staged and large-scale equipment could be used.

“The working back lot will create a totally unique production opportunity in New York City that will allow Kaufman to continue to attract world-class films and television series,” said Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Kaufman Astoria rents its studios to producers. (All Saints Hospital from “Nurse Jackie” occupies Stage G, for example, while “Sesame Street” can be found on Stage J.) It has not been affiliated with Paramount Pictures for many decades. It will lease this one block of 36th Street from New York City and effectively control it until 2049.

As a technical matter, the 36th Street segment has been closed — or “de-mapped” — since June 2012. In 2015, Kaufman Astoria will begin paying rent; it will start at $140,000 annually and escalate every five years. It has already begun making payments to the city in lieu of real estate taxes. These began at $33,137 annually and will increase every year.

Rockwell Group/Archtagon
A rendering of the planned main gate to Kaufman Astoria Studios.
It will close 36th Street to the public from 35th Avenue to 34th Avenue. The building at right is the Museum of the Moving Image.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes the studio, asked Kaufman Astoria not to shut off the street to traffic until it was ready to start construction. The studio agreed.

“Obviously, we’d never take lightly the closing of a public street,” Mr. Van Bramer said. However, he added, it was important to accommodate the studio because Kaufman Astoria “really began the renaissance of 35th Avenue,” an area he said he remembered from his childhood as all but abandoned.

The look of the new gates, by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, was approved last month by the mayoral Design Commission. Tracy Capune, the vice president of Kaufman Astoria, said the main gate, on 35th Avenue, would include a steel truss 40 feet above the street that can double as a working catwalk for outdoor productions.

Mr. Rosenbluth, the studio president, said the gates should be completed this summer. He estimated the total cost at $2 million to $3 million, following a protracted government review that included an initial rejection by the Design Commission.

Mr. Rosenbluth and the studio’s developer, George S. Kaufman, have dreamed of a gated studio complex since the 1980s. They once produced a rendering of an arched entryway that closely resembled the celebrated Bronson Gate (http://www.paramountstudios.com/stages-backlots/backlots/parks/bronson-gate.html) at the Paramount studios in Hollywood.

“We got a cease-and-desist order from Paramount,” Mr. Rosenbluth said, now able to laughat the memory.

David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
The portion of 36th Street that will be closed to the public and turned into a back
lot includes the main entrance to the Kaufman Astoria Studios headquarters, at right.


February 12th, 2013, 06:06 PM
So a new building has sprung up right off the N/Q line between the Ditmars and Astoria Blvd. stops. Any info?

March 3rd, 2013, 02:50 PM
You might be thinking of the Astoria medical facility at 23-25 Thirty-first Street.


April 1st, 2013, 12:07 AM
Queens Chronicle

Astoria medical site debacle unresolved Insurance agencies visit affected homes; BSA stalls variance vote

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:28 am, Thu Mar 28, 2013.

Photo by Josey Bartlett

by Josey Bartlett, Editor

The Board of Standards and Appeals decided for the second time on Tuesday to not vote on a zoning variance for a medical facility in Astoria.

The eight-story edifice at 23-25 31 St. was partially erected when five homeowners who abut the construction started seeing cracks in their foundations, resident Robert Draghi said. They first asked the developer, Pali Realty, to assess the damage. No one showed.

Then in July the Draghis demanded the Department of Buildings conduct an audit. When the department came out, it saw the facility and 135-car parking garage was being built 20 feet from its property line instead of the legal 30. The DOB then issued a stop-work order that is still in place. The board asked for more information from Pali Realty. The vote will come before the board again on April 23.

If the BSA votes in favor of the zoning variance to allow the 10-foot reduction in the setback, Pali Realty will be able to restart construction.

Community Board 1 and the Queens Borough President’s Office recommended the variance with four stipulations: the gray brick wall separating the structure from the homes be finished with a desirable stucco finish; a barrier be installed in front of the air-conditioning unit to modify noise; the developers mitigate the problems with the adjacent homes using a third party; and the front of the building be lit for security reasons.

“We’re begging them to leave the stipulations,” Draghi said of the BSA. “We had a house, we want a house.”

The stipulations would require the developer to resolve the issue with the five owners.

On March 5 someone with Seabreeze General Construction’s insurance company, Chartis Inc., visited all five houses. The Draghis and Imbajas, two families with homes that based on reports from a private engineer need to be rebuilt because of foundation cracks created by the shifting caused by the massive medical building, submitted proposals this week for what they want Chartis and Pali Realty’s insurance, Ace Insurance, to cover.

The Draghis’ and Imbajas’ houses are built with cinder blocks that were not flexible to shifting ground, Draghi said. The Draghis have monitors on most visible cracks in their walls, which show their home is still moving.

The other three homes have wood frames and are most likely fixable.

Nevertheless, Draghi said all the homes need their backyards dug up and repacked. The drainage also needs to be reset. At the Draghi home they have severe water damage and mold.

They will ask for reimbursements for architects, engineers, rebuilding, demolition and relocation during the construction and storage for property that will not fit at the temporary locations.

“We’re moving full speed ahead,” Draghi said. “We don’t want to stall this process at all.”

Seabreeze General Construction did not return a call for comment.

May 25th, 2013, 02:09 AM
3,700+ Queens Waterfront Apartments Might Really Get Built

by Hana R. Alberts

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/HallettsPointLincolnEquities-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/HallettsPointLincolnEquities.jpg)
[Part of Lincoln Equities Group's $1 billion plan for Halletts Point.]

For a time, it was doubtful that anything would happen (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/07/09/astorias_hallets_point_might_actually_break_ground _next_year.php) with Lincoln Equities Group's ambitious plans for Halletts Point (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/hallets-point), a peninsula that juts out into the East River near Astoria—especially after a lot of missteps, revised renderings, and community skepticism—but perhaps we were too cynical, too soon. This week Community Board 1 approved Lincoln Equities' $1 billion plan to put 11 buildings that would range from 11 to 31 stories along a broad swath of the waterfront, according to the WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497184165032740.html?m od=rss_newyork_real_estate).

In real terms, that would mean circa 2,000 new market-rate residences, mostly 1 and 2BRs with a sprinkling of townhouses. Four hundred eighty three more units would are earmarked as senior citizens' affordable housing. Sweetening the deal for area residents—probably the only reasons CB members voted in favor (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/queens-panel-backs-2-600-unit-development-article-1.1352608?localLinksEnabled=false)—the developer has promised to put in an esplanade, parking spots, parks, and retail space (including a big supermarket). Lincoln Equities must ease traffic and help push for better public transport to the area, and eventually build a school.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, the developer has to get a thumbs-up from the borough president and the City Council. If all goes according to plan (and there's no guarantee, considering we've been tracing their travails since 2009 (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/06/16/return_of_the_megaproject_astorias_hallets_point_u nveiled.php)), then construction would start this year with an estimated 2022 move-in.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/AstoriaCove-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/AstoriaCove.jpg)
[A rendering of Astoria Cove.]

There's even more action at Halletts Point. Last month, we reported that a mystery developer submitted a proposal (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/29/mystery_developer_unveils_astoria_cove_plan_for_ha llets_point.php) for a different chunk along its northern shore—another megaproject containing about 1,700 units in a mix of towers and townhouses named Astoria Cove. And now the WSJ reports (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497184165032740.html?m od=rss_newyork_real_estate) that the investors behind this $800 million project are led by Efstathios Valiotis of Alma Realty Corp. Less far along in the bureaucratic approval process than Lincoln Equities, the Astoria Cove plan will be vetted by the Department of City Planning next week. But at least meetings are going on. Perhaps this time change really does lie ahead for what's been called a 'desolate' stretch (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/twin-projects-revamp-desolate-stretch-queens-waterfront-article-1.1331524#ixzz2UDUHnIfd) of the northern Queens waterfront.

Halletts Point Gets Attention With Projects (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497184165032740.html?m od=rss_newyork_real_estate) [WSJ]
Community Board 1 supports $1 billion Halletts Point project in Astoria—if developer includes a supermarket and traffic calming (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/queens-panel-backs-2-600-unit-development-article-1.1352608#ixzz2UDJfv86g) [NYDN]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/05/24/3700_queens_waterfront_apartments_might_really_get _built.php

June 7th, 2013, 05:36 AM
Astoria Waterfront Braces for Influx of Luxury Apartments

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/01_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4434-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/01_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4434.jpg)
In Halletts Point, a quiet Queens neighborhood on the East River, empty lots and industrial
warehouses may soon become luxury residential towers. All photos by Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/).

Halletts Point is one of the few remaining New York neighborhoods that feels like a timeless, undisturbed backwater, forgotten by the city and left to urban entropy. With just one access road, the streets of this isolated community are unusually quiet at midday, only seeing the occasional truck or bus. At the industrial edges of the neighborhood, within view of midtown Manhattan, life slows to a crawl in the hot summer sun. Baby geese wander dead end streets. A tow truck driver naps on the sidewalk. Teenagers sit in an empty waterfront lot, watching East River tugboats go by. All of this may soon change, however, as the city contemplates rezoning the area to make way for two huge new development projects. If completed, these projects could triple the population density of this sleepy Queens peninsula.

In May, Community Board 1 backed a major rezoning of this neighborhood's industrial waterfront, which would allow a parade of new luxury residential towers to be built. The first project planned for the area was unanimously approved, and would result in (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/queens-panel-backs-2-600-unit-development-article-1.1352608) more than 2,100 luxury housing units, and another almost 500 affordable housing units on the western shore of Halletts Point. A second residential project called "Astoria Cove," planned for the north side of the peninsula, would construct "seven new buildings ranging between eight and 30 stories with a total of 1,701 apartment units," according to the Wall Street Journal (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/06/06/online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497184165032740.html). Business owners and residents along the waterfront are conflicted about these plans.

"If they rezone this neighborhood, we'll lose our space," said Justin Green, the program director of Build It Green (http://bignyc.org/), a nonprofit located on the north side of Halletts Point. His 40,000-square-foot warehouse is located near the water's edge, where they have leased a space for the past eight years. His neighbors include a bus depot and a lumber yard. "I don't know where businesses like our are supposed to go after all this rezoning," said Green.

After Hurricane Sandy, other local residents are concerned about the city's desire to drastically increase the population of the neighborhood, which has only one means of egress. "This is a flood zone!" said Dennis Donnelly, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1961. His home, located across the street from several East River warehouses, was flooded with five feet of water during the recent storm. "I don't even know if they can build over there," said Donnelly, gesturing towards the proposed site for Astoria Cove. "They went down a couple feet and found contamination." These residents' concerns, however, seem unlikely to stop the Bloomberg administration, which has tirelessly worked to aid developers in their quest to transform the shoreline of the once-industrial East River into a playground for newer, wealthier residents.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/03_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4509-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/03_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4509.jpg)
Along the western shore of Halletts Point, low warehouses and overgrown empty lots line the East River.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/04_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4485-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/04_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4485.jpg)
Developers have proposed to transform these quiet spaces into the Halletts Point
project, according to the Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497184165032740.html), with an estimated cost of $1 billion.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/05_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4538-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/05_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4538.jpg)
In the meantime, some local residents use the isolated waterfront as a personal backyard,
with views of the Empire State building.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/06_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4742-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/06_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4742.jpg)
The area includes a number of older homes near the waterfront, some of which have been converted
to apartments. Dennis Donnelly, a local resident, believes his home is "definitely over 100 years old."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/07_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4627-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/07_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4627.jpg)
In recent years, several new apartment buildings have been built in the neighborhood.
These apartments are five years old, according to one resident, who refers to them as the "super ugly new buildings."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/08_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4413-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/08_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4413.jpg)
Illegal dumping is a problem throughout the neighborhood, with trash mounds in parks
and on sidewalks. Hundreds of mail bins were dumped at the dead end of this street.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/09_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4452-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/09_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4452.jpg)
"It's been a mess down here for a long time, since I've been coming here," said one MTA bus
driver during his break, but "on the waterfront, that's money. You've got a view of Manhattan."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/12_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4666-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/12_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4666.jpg)
Build It Green's next door neighbors include a bus depot, where buses are
parked on crumbling concrete at the water's edge.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/13_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4703-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/13_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4703.jpg)
In some ways, "it is unfortunate that a lot of industrial space got pushed to the waterfront,"
says Justin Green. "The industrial space keeps the public from the waterfront."

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/14_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4753-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/14_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4753.jpg)
Several of Build It Green's industrial neighbors have already closed down, including Super Stud,
a manufacturer which was located on the proposed site of the Astoria Cove project.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/16_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4672-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/16_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4672.jpg)
Just north of Halletts Point sits one example of the type of development that might be coming the the area.
This apartment tower on the East River provides a free shuttle service to residents, because the subway is so distant.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/18_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4730-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/18_kensinger_hallets_point_DSC_4730.jpg)
The promenade, located 30 feet above the water, is used as a graying bike path
for visitors trying to reach a greener space nearer to the water's edge.

—Nathan Kensinger

Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/) [official]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/06/06/astoria_waterfront_braces_for_influx_of_luxury_apa rtments.php#more

October 13th, 2013, 04:05 AM
City Council Approves 2,500-Unit Megaproject for Hallets Point

by Hana R. Alberts

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/Hallets%20Point%20via%20Lincoln%20Equities-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/Hallets%20Point%20via%20Lincoln%20Equities.jpg)

After more than four years of waiting (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/hallets-point), developer Lincoln Equities finally got the green light (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131009/astoria/1-billion-housing-development-for-hallets-point-approved-by-city-council) for its $1 billion Hallets Point megaproject (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/130244.pdf) (warning: PDF!). What does it all mean? That 2,100 luxury apartments, 500 affordable units, and community necessities like a bank, supermarket, school, and landscaped waterfront promenade (rendered above) are headed for what is at present an isolated, sleepy peninsula (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/06/06/astoria_waterfront_braces_for_influx_of_luxury_apa rtments.php) that juts out into the East River near Roosevelt and Randalls Islands. To woo local council members, the city agreed to conduct a $500,000 feasibility study to see if ferries between Hallets Point and Manhattan could help increase transportation options to and from the area, which are currently minimal at best. And because another developer is eying a nearby site for a 1,500-unit complex with similar bells and whistles (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/29/mystery_developer_unveils_astoria_cove_plan_for_ha llets_point.php) called Astoria Cove, yeah, the population is bound to spike soon. Lincoln Equities plans to break ground (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/1b-hallets-pt-project-astoria-article-1.1481166) in late 2014 or early 2015; meanwhile, Astoria Cove's exact future remains a mystery (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/29/mystery_developer_unveils_astoria_cove_plan_for_ha llets_point.php).

$1B Housing Development for Hallets Point Approved by City Council (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131009/astoria/1-billion-housing-development-for-hallets-point-approved-by-city-council) [DNAinfo]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/10/city_council_approves_2500unit_megaproject_for_hal lets_point.php

October 21st, 2013, 12:10 PM
I detest that stepping down feature, where the first floor is sunk into the ground. You also see that in a number of apartment buildings from the 60's & 70's -- almost all of which have a walled / fenced area to either side of the entry, blocking off the sunken "plaza" that fronts the sidewalk and creating a dead zone along the property line (except, as seen, the lovely display of garbage receptacles).

The prospect of more hurricanes is bound to put a halt to this nonsense. Many houses with the step down feature got hit very hard during Sandy.

April 30th, 2014, 06:01 PM
See post 56.

The article title is a little confusing. The project is called Astoria Cove. Over the last year, the drawings have become more refined; still just massing models, but the project has cleared approval by the DCP.


Astoria's Crescent Cove
STUDIO V presents a mixed-use vision for Queens' waterfront.

Courtesy STUDIO V

The march of development along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront is heading further north. Plans for Astoria Cove—a one-million-square-foot, mixed-use development in Queens—has been approved by the Department of City Planning, moving it one crucial step closer to breaking ground. The plan calls for three residential towers, commercial space, a school, and green space on the currently industrial site along the East River.

But it is the Cove’s crescent-shaped shoreline that is its defining feature. “Astoria Cove is really an outdoor room,” says Jay Valgora, principal at STUDIO V Architects, which is designing the project. “It’s a huge inlet that wraps around you.” And to paint that room green, the firm has recruited landscape architect Ken Smith to transform the space with walkways, rows of trees, flowerbeds, and a rain garden. An “intimately-scaled” street separates the greenery from local restaurants and shops that are tucked into the towers. From the water’s rocky edge, a view opens up to Randall’s Island and the Triborough Bridge. To accommodate for climate change, the entire scheme is set above the current, and future, floodplain.



Valgora is adamant that rising sea levels should not deter development along the East River. He says that a transformed waterfront could provide “the most important series of public spaces” in the city’s future. Beyond creating new housing and open space, the development of the city’s riverside has been good to STUDIO V’s bottom line. The young firm has been commissioned for major projects along the water including the renovation of the Empire Stores warehouse in Dumbo, and the redevelopment of the seven-acre Halletts Point site in Queens. The latter sits adjacent to Astoria Cove.



The landscape design extends throughout the 8.5-project, binding the tall towers along the water to the stepped townhouses further inland. These modern single-family homes are partially clad in horizontal wood slats and connected to each other through a landscaped courtyard. At night, the green space between them is lit with canopied, industrial lamps.

The site is scaled to “step up” as it approaches the shore, with three waterfront towers that will house 1,689 apartments, 259 of which are affordable. When asked about the new, generic glass towers of Jersey City and Williamsburg and Long Island City, Valgora says he is determined to not continue that trend.

At this stage, the towers at Astoria Cove are just massing studies, but they’re said to have “expressive” carved-out corners and tops. From the renderings, that expression is hard to decipher, but all of that could change. “We’re already speaking with the developer to create a whole new language of buildings,” says Valgora. It remains to be seen what that language will be.

Henry Melcher


Copyright © 2003-2014 | The Architect's Newspaper, LLC

May 1st, 2014, 09:03 AM
In a perfect world with ample resources, there would be a pedestrian/bike bridge from this peninsula to Randall's Island.

May 1st, 2014, 11:39 AM
Long span.

September 28th, 2014, 04:06 AM
Durst Family Buys Megaproject Site at Hallets Point

by Rowley Amato


Earlier this week, the Durst Organization (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/durst-organization) bought the long-awaited development site (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/nyregion/in-new-york-real-estate-shift-commercial-developers-leap-into-residential-market.html?partner=rss&emc=rss) at Hallets Point (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/hallets-point), paying "well over $100 million" for a 90 percent stake in the Astoria megaproject.

The Hallets Point development has been in the works for years, and developer Lincoln Equities finally got the greenlight (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/10/city_council_approves_2500unit_megaproject_for_hal lets_point.php) from the city last fall. All told, the project will have 1,921 apartments (plus 483 affordable units), spread across seven buildings. The plans also call for an esplanade, a school and retail space, including a supermarket. Interestingly, the New York City Housing Authority struck a deal that will allow the developer to build and operate two affordable buildings on the grounds of Astoria Houses, the nearby public housing complex.

The deal marks one of Durst's biggest forays into the housing market, whose reputation was built on commercial holdings.

"Times are changing," said developer Douglas Durst. "Large-scale office development opportunities are sparse and Manhattan land is cost-prohibitive to build rentals. It is time for the family to go deeper into residential and to cross the ocean to Astoria."

Meanwhile, just around the corner, the Astoria Cove (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/astoria-cove) residential development is awaiting city approval, with the Planning Commission expected to vote on the project in the coming days.

"Builders Turn Focus To Housing Market" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/nyregion/in-new-york-real-estate-shift-commercial-developers-leap-into-residential-market.html?partner=rss&emc=rss) [NYT]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/09/27/durst_family_buys_megaproject_site_at_hallets_poin t.php

October 2nd, 2014, 01:49 PM
Cross the ocean? That gave me a chuckle.

November 26th, 2014, 04:43 AM
With City Council's Approval, 1,700-Unit Astoria Cove Is A Go

by Jessica Dailey

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/sva_astoria_cove_new_york_post_final1-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/sva_astoria_cove_new_york_post_final1.jpg)
A new rendering of Astoria Cove. Via the New York Post (http://nypost.com/2014/11/19/a-new-development-rises-along-astorias-waterfront/).

Residents of Astoria, it's time to start preparing for another megaproject. City Council voted today (http://observer.com/2014/11/city-council-approves-astoria-cove-project-in-queens/) to approve developer Alma Realty's plans for a controversial 1,723-unit development on the Queens waterfront, known as Astoria Cove (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/astoria-cove). The approval was expected, as the council's land use committee approved the plan (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/11/12/astoria_cove_developers_reach_agreement_for_union_ labor.php) earlier this month. After months of negotiations, it's been decided that the development will be built with all union labor, and 460 of the 1,723 units (about 27 percent) will be reserved as affordable housing for families with a range of incomes.

The Observer reports (http://observer.com/2014/11/city-council-approves-astoria-cove-project-in-queens/) that the city agreed to commit "$5 million in tax payer money toward the construction of a ferry dock on the peninsula," as well as "finding sources for remaining $3 million needed to make the boat-boarding point a reality." The city will also spend $1 million to upgrade a library, and another $500,000 to improve a senior center in the nearby NYCHA houses. Alma agreed to upgrade a local park for an unspecified sum, and include a grocery store and new public school.

City Council members spoke optimistically about the project, but some experts are skeptical as to whether or not it will actually be built. Crain's speculates (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20141123/BLOGS01/141129950/astoria-cove-project-a-risky-gamble) that Alma may actually flip the property:

Crain's has confirmed that a minority partner has already been seeking a buyer for its stake. While majority partner John Mavroudis says he intends to build the project, he lacks the track record on ambitious developments to put much confidence in his assurances. After all, one group won approval for Hallets Point (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/hallets-point) and then sold it to deep-pocketed Durst.

In addition, some less-than-flattering news has come out about the developer—Alma's founder allegedly bribed a Greek bank (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/judge-alma-realty-founder-allegedly-bribed-greek-bank-article-1.2022452) in 1995 for $5.7 million—and many critics are pointing to these shady dealings as a reason why the city should not work with them. Seems like the ship has sailed on that one, but what do we know.

City Council Approves Astoria Cove Project in Queens (http://observer.com/2014/11/city-council-approves-astoria-cove-project-in-queens/) [NYO]
Astoria Cove project a risky gamble (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20141123/BLOGS01/141129950/astoria-cove-project-a-risky-gamble) [Crain's]
Judge: Alma Realty founder allegedly bribed Greek bank reps in 1990s (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/judge-alma-realty-founder-allegedly-bribed-greek-bank-article-1.2022452) [NYDN]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/11/25/with_city_councils_approval_1700unit_astoria_cove_ is_a_go.php