Yesterday, The Journal (rightly) complained the lack of progress at two major affordable housing projects, Hudson Yards and Willets Point. This got The Observer wondering about another, though: whatever happened to Hunters Point South, which was approved the same day almost four years ago as the Willets Point project.
Things are moving along quite nicely, it turns out.
It may seem as though there has been limited tangible progress since Related Companies was tapped to develop the project in February of last year, but that is because most of the work is being done below the surface—with on the banks of the East River and the banks of housing finance.
Since last spring, HPD and the city’s Economic Development Corporation have been at work on building new infrastructure in Hunters Point South, which had been a Daily News printing plant until a few decades ago but otherwise little else. “There was nothing there,” an HPD official told The Observer.
According to the EDC’s construction report for May, sanitary sewers are 100 percent complete, storm sewers are 96 percent complete and water mains are 82 percent complete. Parks infrastructure is coming along, as well, with subsurface work more than halfway finished and features like a dog run, playground, concession building and waterfront walkways taking shape.
Furthermore, the department has pegged financing to be wrapped up this fall for the first phase of the project—project financing usually closes in May and June, but given the cost and complexity of this deal, more time is being set aside to get it done. After that, a groundbreaking is scheduled for October.
At full build out, Hunters Point South will have 5,000 apartments, 60 percent of which are to be affordable, with a particular focus on middle class housing. Related is developing the first phase with Phipps Houses and Manadnock Construction, a builder of affordable housing throughout the metro area. The two towers are being designed by SHoP Architects and KPF and will house 950 units.
Last November, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced that all of those apartments would be affordable units, as opposed to just 75 percent of them as originally planned. Affordability ranges from $32,000 a year to $130,000 a year for a family of four.
As for mega projects in general, the city still sees much strength in that area.
“Willets Point and Atlantic Yards are two of the City’s important signature projects for sure, and the timetables have been recast somewhat,” the HPD official said. “Those are two big projects in a city with a lot of big projects, so I don’t know if using them as a catch-all to characterize the state of housing production in City development projects is the right way to go.”
The official also pointed to progress on projects ranging from Gotham West to Arverne as other large housing projects that continue to make progress in spite of surrounding economic issues.
And now, for some mood music: