BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
At a public hearing in Borough President Melinda Katz’s office last Thursday, Alma Realty announced that the number of affordable housing units at their proposed Astoria Cove development has been increased to 345.
This number represents 20 percent of the entire project, up from 17 percent.
Last month, CB1 rejected the development proposal unless a number of conditions were met, including setting aside 35 percent of the residential units for affordable housing.
Some community advocates want to push that number even higher. At a rally held in conjunction with the public hearing, affordable housing activists called for the development to include 50 percent below-market-rate units.
Corona resident José Luis Rodriguez joined the rally with community advocacy group Make The Road New York (MRNY). He said that at Astoria Cove, MRNY is hoping for at least 40 percent affordable housing, “but we’re striving for 50/50.”
Rodriguez spoke about the impact of rising rent costs on the community.
“That’s why most of the students are still living with their parents, because they cannot afford to be on their own,” Rodriguez said. “Senior citizens that are living under a fixed income and they need their medications, they cut half of their medical intakes to pay the rent.”
Juan Quevedo-Bosch, Rector at the Church of the Redeemer in Astoria, said that he has seen his congregation dwindling due to rising housing costs. He estimates that in the last 15 years, he has lost 50 to 70 of 500 families.
“I think what makes a city workable is the mix of income, races, cultures,” Quevedo-Bosch said.
He said he wants half of the Astoria Cove units to be affordable residences, in order to preserve diversity and to avoid “a clear division between the haves and have-nots.”
“There are other things being done that have cost implications for this project, that have clear public benefit,” Howard Weiss, who represents the developerss, added, such as space slated for a public school and a waterfront park twice the size required by zoning.
“You have to strike a balance in terms of economic viability,” Weiss said.
The application is now waiting for Katz’s recommendation, which she will issue before July 30.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.