Developers have officially broken ground on Hallets Point, a $1.5 billion project in Astoria, Queens. When complete, it will be one of the only New York City residential complexes to function independently of the city’s power grid.

The 2.5-million-square-foot development will feature seven planned residential towers, with a total of 2,400 units. Two buildings will house 483 affordable apartments, and according to, “residents in the neighboring Astoria Houses will have a rental preference for 50 percent of all affordable housing units.”

The development is also slated to include a range of impressive sustainability features beyond its own electrical grid. Hallets Point is a project of the Durst Organization, the developers behind One Bryant Park, the country’s first LEED platinum office building.

Queens Goes Green

The future home of Hallets Point, a 2.5-million-square-foot development featuring seven planned residential towers. Photo credit: The Durst Organization.

Imagine a hot, steamy summer night in New York City—then imagine an electrical brown-out as millions of residents flip on their window air conditioner units after coming home from work. Residents of Hallets Point won’t have to suffer through that sweltering scene, thanks to the project’s innovative on-site cogeneration plants.

According to Jody Durst, president of the Durst Organization, the only connection to any utility at Hallets Point will be gas from Con Edison to fuel the power plants.

And as Capital New York reports:

Those three “co-generating” plants will use that natural gas, whose delivery is not reliant on the electrical grid, to create up to 6.8 megawatts of electricity. The byproduct will be used to heat apartments, heat water and chill water for air conditioning in the summer months.

The facility could be “as much as 80 percent efficient,”  which means that only 20 percent of the energy used to create electricity would be lost. Compare that to conventional buildings which achieve roughly 35% efficiency.

Hallets Point will include other sustainability features as well, such as:

Blackwater reclamation system: will recycle wastewater onsite, using it to to flush toilets and irrigate the complex’s green space. Between the five buildings, the development will eventually process more than 130,000 gallons of water each day, effectively preventing millions of gallons of wastewater from being dumped in the East River.

Elevated shoreline: will prevent erosion and help safeguard the peninsula from rising sea levels. The development will be built in compliance with FEMA and HUD flood plain codes.

Green space: will include more than 100,000 square feet of public access space, extending the Queens East River and North Shore Greenway through the peninsula.

Ferry landing: in conjunction with the city’s current plan to expand ferry access, there will be a Hallets Point landing providing residents with rapid transit to numerous locations throughout Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

The first building of the massive project is slated to open in 2018.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor de Blasio hailed the project as an important milestone for Queens and for New York:

“This has to be a city for everyone, and that’s what we’re doing every day as we build a new generation of affordable housing for families in need. We’re thrilled to get shovels in the ground and bring a long-awaited addition to this community to fruition. This is a project that delivers for the nearby Astoria Houses and strengthens this community with a new school, open space and a supermarket. I congratulate our fellow Queens officials, the local residents and the development team that worked so hard to make this day possible.”