BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Astoria Cove got a green light from the City Planning Commission on Monday.
The nearly nine-acre Astoria Cove development proposal includes about 1,700 residential units and 54,000 square feet of retail space, as well as waterfront access, a supermarket and an elementary school. Ten of the 13 commissioners voted in favor of the developers’ application to rezone the site of the proposed development from manufacturing to residential. One commissioner granted partial approval and two abstained.
“We believe it is a decision that heralds the dawn of a new era in equitable development in New York City,” the developers said in a statement released after the City Planning vote. “As developers, we look forward to Astoria Cove being the standard by which future development projects will be evaluated.”
Astoria Cove is being viewed as a litmus test for the future of affordable housing under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The zoning resolution mandates that 20 percent of the residential units be rented at below market rate, making it the first development of its kind to require affordable housing. However, for many in the community, this measure does not meet Astoria’s housing needs.
Earlier this summer, both Community Board 1 and Borough President Melinda Katz recommended against the proposal and urged a number of changes, including increasing the percentage of affordable units. CB1 specifically called for 35 percent.
Housing and community advocates have meanwhile been pushing for 50 percent affo rdable units at the development.
“Twenty percent and 30 percent affordability are Bloombergian development standards that de Blasio should reject. The countless New Yorkers in danger of losing their neighborhoods to the wealthy elite need 50 percent mixed-income affordability,” Jaron Benjamin, a leader with the housing coalition Real Affordability for All, said in a statement released in anticipation of City Planning’s vote.
The labor advocacy group Build Up NYC has also been vocal in debates on the Astoria Cove proposal, particularly urging local hires for sustainable construction jobs and green building practices.
“[Astoria Cove developer] Alma Realty should not be granted permission to develop Astoria Cove until they commit to responsible development. We stand with the community board and Queens Borough President’s opposition to this project as it stands and urge the developer to make sure this project works for everyone,” Build Up NYC executive director Lenore Friedlaender said in a statement regarding City Planning’s vote.
In August, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) sent a letter to the Dept. of City Planning expressing his “deep concerns” regarding affordability as well as community space and potential ferry service at the development and the project’s environmental impact.
“Residential development in the 21st century must be innovative, contextual and inclusive of its community. To achieve that, the private and public sectors must work together. The City Planning Commission’s vote is only the start of this process,” Constantinides said in a statement to the Queens Tribune Tuesday.
“The development, done correctly, has the opportunity to be a transformative moment for us but only if built to the highest standards,” Constantinides said.
The proposal now moves to the City Council, for a final vote within about two months.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.