In recent months, as plans for two multitower residential complexes along the East River have advanced, a growing sense of anticipation has infused the atmosphere. In the coming years, the Halletts Point and Astoria Cove projects will replace hulking brick monoliths—housing businesses such as Super Stud Building Products—with more than 4,000 apartments, stores, a school and something else: jobs.
"The main issue [for us] is basically employment opportunities," said Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Residents Association, which has given its full-throated support to both projects. "And [the developers] have been gracious to meet with us on a regular basis and listen to what we have to say."
While hopes run high, fed by promises from developers to meet a host of demands from the community, actually putting paychecks in residents' hands may prove more difficult. Although a few employment programs have been clearly outlined, for other programs it is less certain who will get picked for jobs, and when.
The developer of the 2,500-unit Halletts Point project made a number of concessions, agreeing to include a school and a supermarket, before that project was approved in late 2013, but none regarding jobs. That is why attention is now focused squarely on the 1,700-unit Astoria Cove complex, whose developers cut a series of deals late last year with the community on affordable housing and local hiring in order to win support.