Tag Archives: City Planning Commission

Council member slams Astoria Cove project in hearing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

A member of the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises called the affordable housing portion of the Astoria Cove project “a joke.”

Councilman Antonio Reynoso joined the choir of critics against the affordable housing portion of the mega development in the council’s public hearing on Monday.

Other public officials such as Astoria Councilman Costa Constatinides and Public Advocate Letitia James also emphasized that the proposed units for low-income residents aren’t enough.

Representatives for the team of developers on the project have boasted that the project is leading the way in affordable housing with a proposed 20 percent or 345 units of the 1,723 dwellings put aside for low-income residents.

But Reynoso, referencing former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s voluntary 80/20 program, in which 20 percent of units in new developments are reserved for affordable housing in return for benefits, told Astoria Cove project representatives, “What you’re doing is not unprecedented in any way, shape or form; 80/20 without subsidies is a joke. That’s the old standard.”

Reynoso also said that the rates for affordable housing units should be adjusted to better fit Astoria residents, which Constantinides has also previously said.

The team of representatives for 2030 Astoria Developers, the group behind the project, couldn’t answer Reynoso’s question about the average income of residents in Community Board 1, who will have preference to the affordable housing units.

“You guys said that you’ve been working with the community for four years, working very closely with the entire community for four years and you can’t tell me how much Astoria residents make in a year,” Reynoso said. “That’s not four years of work.”

Reynoso also asked how the size of the units in the affordable housing sections compare with the size of Astoria families, many of which need two- or three-bedroom apartments. Again, the representatives couldn’t respond.

“When one master-plans the development, especially of this size, one never plans the unit-mix breakdown at this stage,” a representative said at the hearing. “It’s never part of the planning process.”

Reynoso said he will not vote for the project’s current proposal, and said, “There is no chance this is going to move through.”

Numerous affordable housing supporters in the audience waved their hands whenever increasing the ratio of low-income units was mentioned.

Advocates in support of union jobs and residents from other properties of Alma Realty, the lead developer, were also at the meeting to speak out against the firm.

Among those speaking in favor of the project was Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce believes this project is and will be a great addition for our borough and for Astoria,” Friedman said. “We wholeheartedly endorse and support the project and the many advantages it will present for the local community for generations to come.”

Despite the level of opposition to the current proposal of the project, the City Planning Commission gave its approval last month. Constantinides has pledged to get more affordable housing before the City Council votes.

“As the process moves toward our November vote, we will work with the developer to provide ample affordable housing, good jobs both during and after the construction process, and dramatically increase public transportation options on and off of the peninsula,” he said.

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Astoria Cove criticizers hosting another City Hall rally ahead of Council meeting


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Opposition to the Astoria Cove development isn’t going down without a fight as a City Council meeting for the project draws near.

Build Up NYC, which advocates for building service workers union 32BJ, is hosting a rally against the development outside City Hall on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Hundreds of construction and building maintenance workers and Astoria residents are expected to turn out, hoping to urge the Council to vote against the land-use application for the project as it currently stands.

The Council is set to hold a review session on the project on Monday, Oct. 20, in the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.

The advocacy organization believes the plan does not offer enough affordable housing and is also fighting for more jobs for unionized workers. The project calls for 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings to be affordable housing.

Despite Community Board 2 and Borough President Melinda Katz also opposing the project because of the lack of affordable housing, the City Planning Commission gave the project the green light last month with a majority vote.

Councilman Costa Constantinides reportedly agrees the project needs more affordable housing and that some of the low-income apartments are too expensive.

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Real estate roundup: Advocates urge City Council to scrutinize Astoria Cove, USTA files for new tennis stadium


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Council members urged to scrutinize Astoria Cove deal

“Advocates are urging City Council members to reject the proposed Astoria Cove housing development in Queens unless the developer increases the amount of affordable housing.

“The 1700-apartment project was approved by the City Planning Commission last week and now goes to the Council, which is likely to demand changes before approving it. So far, the developer, Alma Realty, has promised that 20% of the units will be affordable.” Read more [New York Daily News]

Renderings courtesy of the United States Tennis Association

Rendering courtesy of the United States Tennis Association

USTA files for new 25,000 SF stadium

“The USTA National Tennis Center has filed applications for a double-deck and nearly 25,000 square-foot tennis stadium at 121-22 Roosevelt Avenue, in Flushing Meadows; Rossetti is designing.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

Ramen restaurant to open on Vernon Blvd

“The owner of an Astoria ramen restaurant is opening a location on Vernon Boulevard. The restaurant, which is expected to be called Tamashii Blue, will be located 47-36 Vernon Boulevard.” Read more [LIC Post]

Landlord forces three Greenpoint Avenue stores to close, property’s future is uncertain

“The face of Greenpoint Avenue—between 47th and 48th Streets—is going to change as three long-time stores are closing. King Boulevard, SSS Video and Azteca Restaurant have all been notified that they have to leave—as the owner of the property is selling it.” Read more [Sunnyside Post]

Astoria Cove developers pay $43.5 million for remaining land


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Astoria Cove developers recently finalized the sale for the final bits of the land designated for the mega project, although they have yet to win any steps in the project’s land use case.

In the transaction, 2030 Astoria Developers LLC, the group behind the 2.2-million-square-foot project, bought four lots from Superior Steel Studs Inc. for $40.02 million, according to city records filed on Monday. The lots’ addresses are 8-51, 8-01, 4-55 and 4-57 26th Ave.

An additional lot on 4-34 26th Avenue was bought for $3.48 million from Rayan Realty Corp., according to city records.

The developers now own all properties associated with the project, according to Howard Weiss of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which represents the team of developers led by Queens-based Alma Realty.

However, the project still has to clear its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) case. The City Planning Commission plans to hold a meeting on Sept. 29 about its decision on the proposal. Weiss said they are confident they’ll receive the commission’s blessing.

“I believe the City Planning Commission will approve the project as proposed with respect to the affordable housing and with respect to all the [aspects] of the Astoria Cove project,” Weiss said. “The reason why I feel confident is because the Astoria Cove project is consistent with the mayor’s housing plan.”

But most opponents of the development are hoping to see a change in the affordable housing part of the proposal.

Various coalition members and residents testified against the development in a City Planning Commission public hearing in August, calling for the project to include at least 50 percent affordable housing, while developers are proposing 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings.

In their recommendations to deny the project, both Community Board 1 and Borough President Melinda Katz also suggested that the developers increase the units for affordable housing.

Astoria Cove 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 anticipated 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.

Following the commission’s decision, the proposal will go to the City Council.

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City Planning holds public hearing on Astoria Cove


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

More affordable housing in the Astoria Cove project was once again front and center with critics, this time at a City Planning public hearing on the project.

Members of coalitions and residents testified on Wednesday that the 2.2 million-square-foot project should include at least 50 percent affordable housing, while developers are proposing just 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings.

“Soon they will take over the whole place and they will chase us out. Twenty percent of affordable housing is not enough for Queens,” a representative of New York Communities for Change testified at the meeting in Manhattan.

Jaron Benjamin, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, said it would hurt progress to cure the city’s housing crisis.

“If Astoria Cove becomes just another glitzy playground for the wealthy elite, it will be a huge step backward — the opposite of progress,” he said.

Howard Weiss of the law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which represents developers Alma Realty, defended the project, calling it “the crown jewel in the reclamation of the Queens waterfront.”

In their recommendations to deny the project, both Community Board 1 and Borough President Melinda Katz suggested that the developers increase the units for affordable housing.

The City Planning Commission queried about the breakdown of the mix of housing in the plan, but it could not be provided yet.

“In looking at this project over a 10-year phasing plan, one has to keep in mind that market conditions can change,” Weiss said. “At present, it’s really too early to determine what mix will be.”

The commission also asked about main concerns the community and Katz had, including building the new elementary school in an earlier phase, and transportation options.

Prior to the public hearing, Weiss said developers are making public transportation commitments to ease community traffic concerns for the incoming residents in the area, which Katz called “insufficient” in terms of transportation options.

The plans include adding a shuttle bus to and from nearby subway stations, and there will be a spot for a ferry terminal, in case the city decides to add ferry service to the area.

Astoria Cove 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.

At the public hearing, residents and union members from 32BJ SEIU asked that local jobs be set aside for local workers.

The City Planning Commission will issue its recommendations after its 60-day review. The proposal will then go to the City Council for a vote.

Councilman Costa Constantinides said he may not support it.

“Both Community Board 1 and Borough President Katz have voted against the Astoria Cove development with recommendations,” he said. “If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it.”

 

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City Planning Commission OKs Hallets Point development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Thousands of residential apartments, retail space and parkland are one step closer to coming to the Astoria waterfront at Hallets Point, home to the NYCHA Astoria Houses.

On Wednesday, August 21 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan presented by Lincoln Equities Group, the company behind the estimated billion-dollar complex called the Hallets Point project.

In 2012, the development group announced it would build seven multifamily residential towers consisting of 2,200 units. Twenty percent of the apartments will be affordable housing. The location will also include retail space featuring supermarkets, drugstores and restaurants.

A 100,000-square-foot public park, outfitted with pedestrian walkways and bike paths, winding along the waterfront, is also expected to be included.

Robert Schenkel, Lincoln Equities development director previously said the project would bring a positive change to Hallets Points, bringing new housing, an affordable supermarket, a spot for a K-8 public school and a landscaped waterfront path.

The plan will now go before the City Council.

If the plan is approved, construction is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015.

 

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City Planning Commission approves 5Pointz land use application


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

5Pointz, the graffiti covered warehouses in Long Island City, are one step closer to becoming two high-rise apartment buildings.

On Wednesday the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

In July, the developers altered the initial plan after listening to comments from Community Board 2 (CB2). G&M Realty’s plan includes about 78 affordable housing units, an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios and community use of the parking garage for below-market rates.

The plan also includes the installation of art panels on the street to continue to display artists’ works. There will also be a program to curate the works and establish a community advisory group to work with CB 2 before, during and after construction.

CB 2 voted against the owners’ land use application in June. However, constructing the towers is within their rights.

In July, Borough President Helen Marshall announced she approved the Wolkoff’s land use application.

The application still needs to be approved by the City Council, followed by the mayor.

“Once City Planning delivers the application to the New York City Council, which we anticipate to be sometime next week, I will call the matter up,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “By calling it up we will trigger a 50 day window in which the City Council must vote on this application. Once this happens there will be two public City Council hearings at which the public will be invited to comment and testify. I will review the application at City Planning’s recommendation.”

Van Bramer said he will take part in the public meetings and also meet with stakeholders to make the decision based on what he believes “is best for Long Island City.”

 

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