Tag Archives: affordable housing

Flushing groups urge city to seek community input on redevelopment plans


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flushing BOA

Flushing is no stranger to development, but local business owners and community groups are skeptical about Mayor de Blasio’s recent announcement of plans to turn an industrial and polluted section of the Queens neighborhood into a residential area.

Flushing was selected, along with other areas in New York City, as possible candidates in the creation of a new residential community along Flushing Creek. The plans are still in the early stages, but if it goes through, the borders of this new community would run from Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue and westward to Prince Street.

“The area is a construction and hardware destination and it makes no sense to create apartments here,” said Terry Wong, who owns a store that sells doors on College Point Boulevard.

Speaking through translator Lisa Zhang, the business owner continued, “Everyone will lose business and it will have a negative impact on the whole economy of Flushing.”

The Department of City Planning launched a study in that section of Flushing to come up with a plan for the city and state. The area is largely commercial, and any plan for residential development would require some of the local businesses in the area to be removed.

Developers have been interested in the area for many years, including The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation, which received a $1.5 million state grant to clean up the polluted waters of Flushing Creek.

John Choe, the executive director for the new Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said he liked the idea but he was concerned about what the city’s plan  would look like.

“There needs to be a lot more grassroots organizations,” Choe said. “The former mayor was credited with developing and creating a lot of things in this city, but all those changes came from up top. I would hope that the de Blasio administration avoids the mistakes of his predecessor.”

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City to begin studying western part of Flushing for residential development


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city is looking into rezoning the western part of Flushing for redevelopment and affordable housing, according to a city council hearing on Monday.

The Department of City Planning will launch a study from the westernmost part of Flushing to Prince Street and Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue. The area is largely industrial and most of it hugs Flushing Creek’s bank. Developers have been interested in the area for many years, including The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation, which received a $1.5 million state grant to clean up the polluted waters of Flushing Creek.

The plan is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to construct or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments. And Flushing was selected, along with other areas in New York City, as a possible candidate for housing development that would include mandatory affordable housing.

“The plan is to create a comprehensively planned community,” said Alexa Rosa, a consultant for the organization that received the state grant.

The city planning department will begin reaching out to the many stakeholders in the area for the possible rezoning, according to a spokesman for Councilman Peter Koo. The process could take years to complete.

“We definitely need more affordable housing,” the spokesman said. “And that would be welcomed, if that’s what’s actually going to happening.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic about it,” he added. “Because we are excited about it, but we don’t want to fully support something when the details aren’t there.”

He continued, “Everybody has to be treated fairly.”

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Real estate roundup: Hunter’s Point South affordable housing developers throwing a party


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Related Companies

Party at the Site Where $500-a-Month Apartments Are Rising in Hunters Point

Residents interested in applying for one of the hundreds of affordable apartments in the first phase of Hunters Point South can check out the neighborhood next week at a party being thrown by the developers.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Near $4 million Douglaston mansion most expensive listing in Queens

A nine-bedroom mansion on 234th Street was the priciest Queens home put on the market last month. [The Real Deal]

Forest Hills residents think their beloved Bonelle Pastry Shop is worth fighting for  

“Queens cookie fans are crumbling at the news that a beloved borough bakery is closing at the end of the year — possibly due to an incoming Dunkin Donuts. Bonelle Pastry Shop in Forest Hills will lose its lease at the end of December after serving up its specialty cakes and almond croissants for more than 20 years, shop owner Rahita Ravel said.” Read more [The New York Daily News]

City Living: Rego park is as Queens as it gets

“The neighborhood is characterized by its main arteries of Queens Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard – pulsing with retail and culinary activity — juxtaposed with quiet residential streets featuring picturesque Tudor homes.” Read more [amNewYork]

 

Hunter’s Point South buildings now accepting affordable income housing applications


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos and charts courtesy of Related

Starting Wednesday, people who want to live in the affordable housing apartments at the Hunter’s Point South developments can start applying through NYC Housing Connect or by mail.

There will be a 60-day period during which people can apply, after which a lottery will be held and prospective residents will be notified in early 2015. Residents are expected to start being placed by next year.

Hundreds of people packed informational meetings in recent weeks to learn about the buildings, which are being developed by Related Companies, Phipps Houses and Monadnock Development, and designed by SHoP Architects. 

“The interest was overwhelmingly positive and the amount of interest was really off the charts,” said Frank Monterisi, a senior vice president at the Related Companies, about the forums. 

Of the more than 900 units that will be available in the developments — 32-story Hunter’s Point South Crossing and 37-story Hunter’s Point South Commons — 186 units, or about 20 percent, will be low-income housing, and 738 apartments will be moderate- and middle-income housing.

Studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be available for all of those income levels. Low-income rental prices start from $494 for a studio and max out at $959 per month for a three-bedroom, while eligible incomes range from about $19,000 to approximately $49,000 annually. Rents for middle- and moderate-income units range from $1,561 to $4,346 per month for household incomes of $55,200 to $224,020 annually.

HUNTERS POINT RENTS

Most apartments will be reserved for residents already in the neighborhood, city workers or people with disabilities. The buildings will reserve 50 percent of the apartments for people living within Community Board 2, 7 percent for those with mobility or hearing disabilities or those who are visually impaired, and 5 percent for city employees.

Although the apartments cater to low and moderate income families, the buildings feature views of the Manhattan skyline and many amenities, including a 24-hour attended lobby, on-site manager and staff, a party room, an outdoor terrace, a fitness center, a playroom, a bike room and an outdoor community garden.

“We basically look to build the same quality of amenities in our other housing projects,” Monterisi said. “Those are things people want.”

There will also be 250 parking spaces on a first-come, first-served basis for an additional fee.

HUNTERS POINT STEPS

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Protestors demand better housing for Pan American homeless shelter residents


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Demands were made and tears were shed Wednesday morning at a protest outside the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter in Elmhurst, but this one was different from other protests of the past few months.

Protestors during the Aug. 20 rally were in support of the shelter’s residents and demanded permanent affordable housing for them.

The organizations Picture The Homeless, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities gave the shelter’s residents a platform to air their grievances.

“The main purpose is to ratchet down the feelings between the community and the shelter,” said a Picture The Homeless spokeswoman, who goes by the moniker Ms. K. “We all want the same thing: permanent housing. That is less disruptive for the homeless and for the community.”

She also alleges that the city pays the shelter more than $3,000 per person each month and instead, if they offered the money to the residents as a subsidy toward their rent, many of them would not have become homeless in the first place.

“It is much cheaper than sending them to an area they are not familiar with,” she said.

Christine Napolitano, who lives with her three children in the shelter, agreed, adding that the four of them have to live in one room and eat food that “you won’t even give your dog.”

Napolitano is not allowed to cook in the shelter. Her children are enrolled in schools in the Bronx but her repeated requests to be transferred to a shelter in that borough have been denied.

“We are not bad people because we are homeless,” she said. “We are not here to cause trouble.”

The message seems to be getting through to the community, which for the past few months, have gathered outside the shelter and yelled insults at the residents.

“We are not against the homeless. We just don’t like the way the government is spending taxpayers’ money. If there was more affordable housing, they can get an apartment with a living room and a kitchen for $1,600,” said Irene Chu, an Elmhurst resident for the past 40 years. “Instead, children cannot even do their homework in this room in this shelter. The homeless are really the victims here. They are being abused while someone else makes all the money.”

Elmhurst resident Tom Lai claimed housing the homeless in shelters instead of creating affordable housing was “a bad idea” but he is hopeful that “good sense will prevail.”

Jaime Weisberg, 38, traveled from her home in Astoria to the shelter to offer her support.

“I have been seeing the hatred coming from the community,” she said, referring to the previous protests. “It is appalling. This doesn’t represent Queens. We are better than this.”

The Department of Homeless Services said the shelter offers residents three meals a day, case management, and job and housing counseling, which serve as the foundation for the residents to secure jobs, save money and be able to move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

“We are always open to hearing ideas on how to improve our families’ stay in shelters, as we know this is not an easy time for them,” DHS said.

 

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Community board votes on proposed Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

A local community board has told developers if they want to move forward with a proposed development on the Astoria waterfront, they had better pay attention to the board’s suggestions.

One week after Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1, board members voted against the proposal unless developers follow recommendations given by the board.

“We have put down in writing the recommendations that we think will help improve the situation there and will make the Astoria west area productive and really something to be proud of in our community district,” said Elizabeth Erion, assistant chair of CB1’s zoning and variance committee.

The four pages of conditions included an increase of affordable housing units from 20 percent to 35 percent dispersed throughout all five buildings of the site and be included in every construction phase; increase of parking spaces; priority of construction and permanent jobs given to local residents and youth; commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities; and the importance of the 456-seat public elementary school constructed at the site.

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said his clients are happy the community board did not raise objections to the project and most of the conditions presented have already been changed. He said that developers will be submitting revisions to the proposal.

“[The community board] had some concerns and they expressed those concerns,” Weiss said. “But the important thing is that if you listen carefully to their vote they support the project itself.”

Although Weiss said developers are working with Department of City Planning to increase the number of affordable housing units, 35 percent would not be “realistic.”

“We are working with City Planning to increase the number of affordable units to what would be a realistically and economically viable affordable housing density,” he said.

The Astoria Cove proposal will now head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

 

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Community expresses concerns about Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

The process to bring an approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development to the Astoria waterfront got off to a bumpy start as developers presented their proposal to the local community board.

Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the proposed development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1 Tuesday night as the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for the project.

“Today this waterfront is not accessible,” Valgora said. “It’s really not an amenity or asset for the community and we would like to tie that back in and create a wonderful extension to the community.”

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building and 456-seat public elementary school.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, featuring a waterfront esplanade, children’s playground for various ages and streetscape design through the site.

“We think it’s just going to bring life and activity to this neighborhood,” Valgora said.

However the project was met with concerns from community board members who brought up issues of safety, handicap accessibility, affordable housing, parking, a medical center at the site, and construction and permanent jobs.

Along with the board members, more than 50 people signed up to speak on the project including members of Build Up NYC, an alliance of construction and building service workers. The alliance called on the community board to recommend Alma Realty ensure good and safe jobs with fair wages and benefits, protect workers and the community by removing asbestos and other toxins, create opportunities for local residents and much more.

“Alma Realty has an opportunity to create good, safe jobs with priority hiring for local residents and opportunities for local businesses,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of Build Up NYC. “But they haven’t made a commitment to do so. We need good jobs and affordable housing to keep the middle class strong.”

One of the main concerns shared by speakers was the number of affordable housing units at Astoria Cove. The site is expected to have 295 affordable housing units throughout the entire site, down from initially reported 340 units.

“We might be middle class but we’re not idiots and we can see the writing on the wall; we are not wanted at Astoria Cove,” said Astoria resident Tyler Ocon. “The community board is the first line of defense now against these underhanded tactics. Without the originally promised affordable housing units and a guarantee that these units will remain forever affordable, this project will be the first gust of wind that ships Astoria’s middle and working class up the East River.”

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said developers are in talks with the Department of City Planning to increase the number of units but will not have the number in time for the community board’s decision.

Residents also said they are concerned the development would increase rents, pushing out those currently living in the community.

On the other end, some speakers expressed excitement on the idea of the economic benefits and opportunities of the development. Both Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Brian McCabe, COO of New York Water Taxi, spoke on the possibility of a ferry terminal being located at the site.

After the last speaker took the podium, CB 1 Chair Vinicio Donato said the board’s land use committee would vote on the proposal the following week. If the board approves it, the proposal will head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

“Remember, the key word is recommendation. We have no authority to force anyone to do anything,” Donato said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Rain. High 49. Winds E at 15 to 25 mph. Rainfall near a half an inch. Wednesday night: Periods of rain. Low 49. Winds SE at 15 to 25 mph. Rainfall near an inch.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Briarwood Town Hall Meeting

There will be a Briarwood Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m. sponsored by Councilman Rory Lancman, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Assemblyman David Weprin. It will feature a discussion with officials from:
MTA, NYC & NYS Departments of Transportation, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Department of Sanitation  and 107th Police Precinct. The community meeting will feature a discussion on the Kew Gardens Interchange Project. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens cop arrested on child pornography charges

A Queens cop was slapped with child pornography charges after videos of underage girls engaging in sexual acts were allegedly found on his computer. Read more: The Queens Courier

Unions urge judge to nix law easing suits vs. NYPD

Police unions say a New York City law easing the way for racial profiling claims could entangle officers in lawsuits over elusive questions about what they were thinking when stopping someone. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bent metal on plane wing prompts return to LaGuardia Airport

Passengers on a New York-to-Miami flight Sunday were shocked to find a large piece of metal bent up on the wing of the aircraft. Read more: ABC New York 

Unions offer pay cuts for jobs in affordable-housing plan

Construction unions are so ­eager to get in on Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build 200,000 units of affordable housing that they’ve ­offered to take a pay cut, sources told The Post. Read more: The New York Post

Catholic League tries to get bars to join Guinness ban

The Catholic League’s battle against Guinness for dropping its support of the St. Patrick’s Day parade has now hit the Big Apple’s bar stools. Read more: am New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Rain and snow showers this morning. Then becoming partly cloudy this afternoon. High near 55. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Monday night: Clear skies. Low 34. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Kaleidoscope

“The Kaleidoscope” starts at 8:00 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. The Kaleidoscope is an experiment where friends and strangers get together and perform. Four improvisers create teams with whom they have never performed and will never exist again. Like a kaleidoscope:, every time you look you will see something different. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York City Council to hold hearing on Superstorm Sandy recovery

Members of the de Blasio administration and people affected by Superstorm Sandy are expected to speak Monday morning at a City Council oversight hearing. Read more: CBS New York

Report: Unpaid tolls rose on no-cash NYC bridge

The amount of uncollected tolls on a New York bridge skyrocketed after electronic E-ZPass systems replaced all cash toll lanes, according to a published report. Read more: NBC New York

With pre-k fight behind him, de Blasio to shift focus to affordable housing

Now that state lawmakers have closed a budget deal to fund prekindergarten in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is ready to turn to the next items on his sweeping liberal agenda. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bratton raps Kelly and Bloomberg on stop and frisk

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton turned on the city’s former leaders Sunday, saying the department had a terrible morale problem when he took over because of the way his predecessor, Ray Kelly, and former Mayor Bloomberg used stop-and-frisk. Read more: New York Post

Obamacare website down as deadline arrives

People trying to apply and enroll for private health insurance through Obamacare before Monday’s midnight deadline are discovering the website is “currently unavailable.” Read more: NBC News

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy skies this morning will become overcast during the afternoon. High near 45. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Showers early, then becoming foggy with light rain overnight. Low 38. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Celebrate Black History Month – George Washington Carver Workshop

Celebrate Black History Month and join the Queens Botanical Garden at its George Washington Carver Workshop at 1:30 p.m.  Dr. George Washington Carver made significant contributions in the field of botany.  Learn how plants played an important role in his early life and about his later achievements in botany, agriculture, botanical illustration, industrial engineering and medicine. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Sky’s the limit: Mayor de Blasio says he would OK affordable housing buildings at any size

Get ready for even taller skyscrapers and more densely packed neighborhoods. Read more: New York Daily News

Speeding taxi shut-off technology may not exist

City officials have no clue who will foot the bill to outfit taxis with a device to turn off the meter whenever the driver is speeding — and the technology may not even ­exist yet. Read more: New York Post

New York State eases requirements on some name changes for driver’s licenses

Changing your name on your driver’s license just got a lot easier for many New Yorkers. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD takes over enforcement of horse-drawn carriage rules

The NYPD has taken over enforcement of regulations for horse carriages, and a spokesman for the industry said he hopes they will go by the law and not by a plan to shut the industry down. Read more: CBS New York

Airlines warned about shoe bomb threat

The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes. It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives on a commercial jetliner. Read more: ABC New York

TF Cornerstone selected to develop Phase II of Hunters Point South


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of ODA

TF Cornerstone, a real estate developer that has built several residential buildings along the Long Island City waterfront, has been selected to build the second phase of the city’s Hunter’s Point South project.

TF Cornerstone is part of a team with Selfhelp Community Services that will develop a total of 1,193 new apartments in two high-rise buildings at the Long Island City site, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) said Friday.

Of those units, which will be a mix of with studio, one- , two- ,and three-bedroom, 796 apartments will be affordable, with 100 reserved for low-income senior citizens, according to HPD.

“When TF Cornerstone broke ground on our LIC Waterfront project more than ten years ago, we envisioned the creation of a multi-faceted, family-friendly community with diverse retail options, top-of-the-line schools and expansive park space. [This] designation by HPD enables us to continue our pursuit of these goals in what is now an already-thriving LIC waterfront, while creating greatly needed affordable housing,” said K. Thomas Elghanayan, chairman and co-founder of TF Cornerstone.

The buildings will feature a fitness facility, rooftop gardens and decks, children’s playroom, an on-site senior recreational center and other amenities, said the HPD.

There are also preliminary plans for a pre-kindergarten, a medical facility, a rock climbing gym, and new restaurants at the site’s 20,000-gross-square-feet of commercial space. It also has 10,000-gross-square-feet of new community space that will be “programmed with local arts-based community groups.” Additionally, the site design incorporates numerous community green spaces, according to HPD.

Designed by ODA, the buildings will also have impressive features.

Their design “enhances the Queens skyline” with “stepped terraces that echo the Art Deco skyscrapers of Manhattan.”

 

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Quinn focuses on middle class in State of the City address


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in her final State of the City address, promised it would become more affordable to live and work in New York in the years to come.

Quinn, who will be term limited out of the Council at the end of this year, is a heavy favorite on the Democratic side as a mayoral candidate.

“Every day, as I travel the five boroughs, I talk to people with those same hopes for the future, with the same incredible work ethic, and the same belief that there is no better place to be than New York City,” Quinn said. “I’m incredibly proud that in the last seven years, this City Council has built a record, not of words and criticisms, but of actions and results.”

In her hour-plus speech, Quinn promised to ensure the working middle class be able to stay and prosper in the city — and will do so through a number of current and future programs.

“Our top priority must be to keep our middle class here, attract new middle class families, and give every New Yorker the opportunity to enter the middle class,” she said. “Simply put, we face an affordability crisis in our city and it cuts right at the fabric of New York. We need to make sure that the people who want to stay in our great city can afford to stay here.”

On a related note, Quinn announced an incentive for residential building owners to convert a certain number of units into affordable housing. In return, the city will cap property taxes on the building based on rental intake.

“It’s a win for them, a win for middle class renters, and a win for the city,” Quinn said. “This is how we retain economic diversity in neighborhoods that have become harder to reach for the middle class.”

 

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