Developers agreed to union labor and increased
affordable housing at Astoria Cove this week.
Yesterday, the City Council’s land use committee
approved the plan. Rendering courtesy of Studio
BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Developers agreed to use union labor and increase affordable housing at Astoria Cove, just before the City Council’s land use committee approved the project in a unanimous vote Wednesday afternoon.
Astoria Cove is a 1,700 unit waterfront megaproject from 2030 Astoria Developers, with Alma Realty as lead investors. Alongside added affordable housing, guaranteeing union labor has been a major sticking point in debates and negotiations as the proposal has wound through the ULURP process.
The percentage of units set aside as affordable has jumped from 20 to 27 percent. The bulk of the units will cater to low-income renters with rents as low as $800 per month. Seven percent will be set aside for moderate-income renters.
Constantinides said he is “very happy” with the deal, which he called “historic.”
“These rates make the agreement innovative, contextual and inclusive of our community. The agreement will help transform Astoria for the better,” he said.
Borough President Melinda Katz, who recommended against the proposal when it was on her desk due largely to insufficient affordable housing, said Wednesday that the plan is now “closer to par with many of our chief concerns” and called it a “marked improvement.”
However, the agreement is still lower than the 35 percent Community Board 1 called for when they rejected the proposal back in June, and some advocates said they continue to oppose the project.
Jaron Benjamin of Real Affordability for All, which has been pushing for 50 percent affordable housing at Astoria Cove, said, “both the level and depth of affordability should be much higher. The Astoria community wanted at least 35 percent affordability, and this deal at 27 percent fails to meet that standard.”
Also included in the deal, the City, Constantinides and Katz are all contributing to the construction of a ferry dock and the City is also providing funds for a new senior center and renovations to the Astoria library branch.
As for labor, developers and trade unions agreed on a contract late Tuesday evening to employ union labor for all construction, building maintenance and security jobs, the labor coalition Build Up NYC said.
Employment will include state-approved training and apprenticeship programs and union standard wages.
With this vote and Constantinides on board, Astoria Cove’s prospects look bright. The City Planning Commission approved the project in a near unanimous vote; it has also earned praise from Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as the Astoria Houses Resident Association, which represents the NYCHA residents that Astoria Cove would neighbor.
The City Council will issue the final vote on Nov. 25.
The labor contract also followed a series of protests and rallies, including the storming of Alma Realty’s offices last week regarding another project of theirs at 34-36 Vernon Blvd.
About 20 advocates and union workers from groups including Real Affordability for All, Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change – organizations that have long been vocal in the fight for more affordable housing units and union labor at Astoria Cove – gathered in the lobby to voice concerns about health, safety and employment practices at this site.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.