Housing program to replace 421-a tax abatement will allow developers to proceed with mega-projects

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Studio V Architects hallets
Hallets Point: Rendering by Studio V Architects

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a push for legislation to create a new housing program that will replace the 421-a tax abatement to allow developers to move forward with mega-developments such as the Hallets Point project in Astoria, the Queens Times-Ledger reports.

The Durst Organization scaled back that $1.5 billion complex with five buildings and 2,400 apartments, 484 of them affordable to just one building after the 421-a program was allowed to expire last January.

The Real Estate Board of New York and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York reached a deal in November that expands the production of affordable housing and provides fair wages for construction workers.

Under Cuomo’s new “Affordable New York” housing program, developers of new residential projects with 300 or more units in certain areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan would be eligible for a full property-tax abatement for 35 years, provided they commit a certain number of rental units to remain affordable for 40 years, and pay construction workers an enhanced average wage and benefits, the publication reported.

“This agreement will help fulfill the real need for more affordable housing in New York City while recognizing the work of the employees who build them,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This agreement will expand housing opportunities for low-income individuals by lowering income eligibility requirements, and extend affordability for projects created with 421-a for an additional five years.”

The governor has encouarged the state Legislature to approve his “Affordable New York” program, unlocking $2 billion in funds for affordable housing.

The loss of 421-a has slowed development in New York City after the governor shot down a deal brokered by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015.

“I do think the absence of 421-a has been unhelpful to say the least,” de Blasio said. “I don’t think it has been critical, in the sense of a lot of great work continues to be done, and a lot was already in the pipeline, but we need it, and I am increasingly optimistic that it will be done soon.”

Studio V Architecture designed the project.