Anticipating the reinstatement of a key affordable-housing tax break, a landowner has put a sprawling development site on the Queens waterfront up for sale, with a $350 million asking price.
A partnership led by Alma Realty Corp. has hired Cushman & Wakefield investment sales executives Bob Knakal, Robert Shapiro and Adam Spies to sell Astoria Cove, a 2.2 million-square-foot mixed-use development project on nearly 9 acres along the East River in Astoria.
Alma and its partners brought the site to the auction block midway through March, signaling confidence that the return of 421-a, an expired tax break for residential development projects, will be rebooted and will stoke a moribund land market.
State legislators were expected to sign 421-a back into law late last week. Nearly a year and a half earlier, the program expired after the Real Estate Board of New York, the city's most powerful real estate lobbying group, could not come to an agreement with unions in the building trades on whether to require higher wages for certain projects.
In order to receive the zoning to build up to 1.7 million square feet of housing on the site, Alma reached a deal with the city to reserve 25% of the square footage for affordable housing. The firm's plans also included 110,000 square feet of retail space, 300,000 square feet of parking and a roughly 60,000-square-foot school.
If 421-a is reinstated, the buyer of the site could receive 35 years of real estate tax breaks in exchange for building the affordable-housing component of the project. To pave the way for a renewed 421-a, REBNY and the construction unions agreed that workers who build near the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, like the Astoria Cove project, would be paid a minimum $45 an hour. The mandated minimum wage would be $60 in Manhattan.