Mayor de Blasio broke ground on New York City’s first off-grid affordable housing project this week in Astoria, Queens. The $1.5 billion development at Hallets Point will provide hundreds of affordable apartments for low-income families in the area, and also includes a number of impressive sustainable features such as its own on-site micro-grid as well as a wastewater system that will divert millions of gallons of wastewater from being dumped in the East River.

Hallets Point Affordable Housing

Upon completion, the $1.5 billion Hallets Point development will include approximately 2,400 units, of which at least 483 will be affordable. Additionally, the project includes a new school, open green space, renovated playgrounds and improved transportation options for Astoria residents. The project will also include a full-sized supermarket as part of the city’s FRESH program which aims to provide nutritious and affordable food to underserved communities throughout the city.

Related: Plans to Bring New Waterfront Park and Residential Buildings to Astoria Move Forward

Although affordable housing is not a new concept in NYC, this particular project is unique in that it includes some seriously impressive sustainable features. The on-site cogeneration plant will enable the complex to generate its own electricity, meeting everyday needs of the community such as hot water, heating and cooling independent of the local grid. In fact, the Hallets Point development will be the first “off the grid” residential development in New York City.

Additionally impressive is the site’s Blackwater reclamation system, which will see wastewater recycled onsite and used 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.

The first building of the massive project, which is slated to open in 2018, will include 450 residential units, 81 of which will be made available to low-income families. At the groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by HPD Commissioner Been, Queens officials, residents, and members from the Durst Organization, 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.”

+ Hallets Point

Images via Durst Organization