Astoria Cove owner looking to sell site for $350M

Brokers expect 421a revival to renew interest in 2.2M sf site

Astoria Cove in Queens
Astoria Cove in Queens

With 421a expected to be revived, the owner of the Astoria Cove megaproject in Queens is looking to sell the site for $350 million.

A partnership led by Alma Realty hired a team at Cushman & Wakefield including Bob Knakal, Robert Shapiro and Adam Spies to sell the 2.2 million-square-foot, mixed-use development site covering nine acres on the East River waterfront in Astoria, Crain’s reported.

Alma failed to obtain the lucrative tax incentive before it sunset in June 2015, and cited the lack of 421a as the reason the company put the 1,763-unit project on ice. But a later news report suggested the reason the project stalled was because Alma projected pricy rents for apartments at rates the neighborhood wouldn’t support.

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Developers across the city put rental projects on hold after 421a expired, but state lawmakers are working on a plan to reinstate the program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dubbed “Affordable New York.”

“We wouldn’t have hit the market with Astoria Cove in the past 16 months because of the uncertainty around 421a,” Cushman’s Knakal told Crain’s. “But there’s been a sense of optimism in recent weeks that 421a will be back and with it, the land market will strengthen.”

In order to get the area rezoned for residential, Alma, headed by Efstathios Valiotis, agreed to set aside 25 percent of the square footage for affordable housing. If 421a is put back in place, a new buyer could get 35 years’ worth of tax breaks for building the affordable units.

Under the new 421a plan, projects near the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts like Astoria Cove would pay construction workers a minimum of $45 per hour. [Crain’s] – Rich Bockmann