Durst JV Invests $1.5B in Astoria, Queens

Best known for developing and managing Manhattan office towers, The Durst Organization is investing $1.5 billion in a residential and retail development at Hallets Point on the Astoria, Queens, waterfront.

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Best known for developing and managing Manhattan office towers, The Durst Organization is investing $1.5 billion in a residential and retail development at Hallets Point on the Astoria, Queens, waterfront.

The Dursts have formed a joint venture with Lincoln Equities Group of Rutherford, N.J., to build 2,404 units of rental housing, including 483 affordable apartments. The 2.5 million-square-foot project will feature eight residential buildings: four market rate, two 80/20 and two affordable buildings, according to a release from The Durst Organization. The firm said the affordable apartment buildings will be developed in partnership with Jonathan Rose Cos. The property is adjacent to Astoria Houses, a city housing project with more than 3,500 residents.

The project will include a 25,000-square-foot supermarket and 20,000 square feet of community service retail such as restaurants, a bakery, bank, dry cleaners and pharmacy. Plans also call for 14,000 square feet of space to be used for a medical or community facility. The project along the East River will include a new public waterfront esplanade that will connect Whitey Ford Field to the existing esplanade. It will also set aside room for a new public school.

The Dursts, developers of office skyscrapers including One World Trade Center, One Bryant Park and 4 Times Square, paid Lincoln Equities more than $100 million for a 90 percent stake in the development, according to The New York Times. Lincoln Equities retains 10 percent ownership, the newspaper reported.

“After nearly 100 years of building and developing on the island of Manhattan, we are proud to join Lincoln Equities in this exciting waterfront project in Astoria,” Jonathan “Jody” Durst, president of The Durst Organization, said in the release. “This project will transform an isolated and neglected stretch of the Queens waterfront and transform it into a vibrant community with housing, parks, retail, waterfront access and improved transportation. This is our family’s first major development outside of Manhattan and is demonstrative of our growth as residential developers and owners; we could not be more excited about this project, this community and our partners.”

The Durst Organization, working in partnership with Sidney Fetner Associates, currently owns and manages about 1,800 residential units in Manhattan. Durst Fetner Residential’s portfolio consists of seven rental properties and three condominium buildings.

Joel Bergstein, president of Lincoln Equities Group, said in the release that his firm began working on the project seven years ago.

“This new joint venture with The Durst Organization will enable us to realize our dream for Hallets,” Bergstein said. “We will bring a much-needed supermarket and affordable housing to Astoria as well as reinvigorating and reconnecting the peninsular to the surrounding neighborhood through infrastructure improvements and retail development.”

The Dursts aren’t the only well-known Manhattan developers crossing over to Queens for residential projects. The Related Cos. formed a joint venture with Phipps Houses and Monadnock Construction to develop Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Queens, which will feature two buildings with a total of 925 affordable apartments. The project is expected to be completed next year. Tishman Speyer Properties and Toronto-based H&H Real Estate Investment trust are teaming up to develop a luxury residential project that will eventually have 1,600 units. It will be located next to 2 Gotham Center, a 21-story office building developed by Tishman Speyer at Queens Plaza South.

“A look at the development market reveals a bright future for Queens,” Ariel Property Advisors stated in its Queens 2014 Mid-Year Sales Report.