City Council launches probe into city pulling funding for Durst’s Halletts Point project

Administration stalled $43.5M in bonds
February 19, 2018 03:30PM

Douglas Durst, Ritchie Torres and a rendering of Halletts Point

The City Council is investigating why the de Blasio administration yanked bond financing for part of the Durst Organization’s Halletts Point project.

In November, the Housing Development Corporation decided against providing $43.5 million in public financing to a 163-unit building planned for the site of the Astoria Houses. Council member Ritchie Torres, who chairs the newly-formed oversight and investigations committee, told Politico that HDC’s decision requires further examination.

Durst had agreed to improve Astoria Houses’ heating system as part of its project. The apartment building’s aging boilers were recently featured in a New York Daily News report about the failure of boilers in various New York City Housing Authority buildings. Torres noted that the city’s withdrawal of bond financing would lead to the “indefinite delay in the retrofit of four NYCHA boilers,” as reported by Politico in January.

“In light of the troubling report, which comes amid a citywide collapse of heating systems in public housing, I am investigating the circumstances surrounding the loss of immediate heating upgrades for 3,000 NYCHA residents,” Torres said.

City officials said they chose not to issue the bonds because the revenue from the market-rate apartments in the project is expected to finance the affordable housing units. The building, according to the developer, relied on the financing and is therefore indefinitely stalled.

“As we’ve clearly explained, the work proposed by the Durst Corporation was to support a new project the developer planned, not to improve heat at Astoria Houses,” said Melissa Grace, a spokesperson for de Blasio. “Indeed, we’ve allocated $20 million in federal and city funds to deliver the heating upgrades residents deserve.”

City officials also said that the decision was unrelated to the feud between the mayor and Douglas Durst.  [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel