Nov. 13, 2014 By Michael Florio
The City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the controversial Astoria Cove development on Wednesday.
The Land Use Committee and developer Alma Realty struck a deal that 27 percent of the 1,700 units would be affordable.
Alma Realty originally said that 20 percent of the units would be affordable, the bare minimum under the new “inclusionary zoning” program implemented by the de Blasio administration.
“I am happy to have reached this historic agreement on Astoria Cove,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides, referring to the 27 percent deal that he helped cement.
Constantindes said last month that the 20 percent proposed by Alma was not enough—agreeing with both Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 1, who both recommended denying the project unless more affordable units were included.
The initial proposal also got a lot of push back as to the rental prices of the so-called “affordable units.” Many of the units were marketed to people earning up to 175 percent of the Adjusted Median Income (AMI)—leading to rental prices that approached $2,700 for a one bedroom.
Under the new agreement, the maximum an applicant can earn is up to 125 percent of the AMI—although most of the affordable units are for those earning less than 80 percent of the AMI.
The agreement requires 5 percent of the 1,700 units to be rented to households earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI); 15 percent for those earning up to 80 percent of the AMI; and 7 percent for households up to 125 percent.
With the new agreement, 20 percent (of the 27 percent affordable units) of the development will be reserved for low income households, with monthly rents being as low as $800 per month, Constantinides said.
“These rates make the agreement innovative, contextual, and inclusive of our community,” Constantinides said. “The agreement will help transform Astoria for the better.”
Constantinides said that under the agreement the project will bring a unionized workforce, a supermarket, a new school, a renovated local library, upgraded parks and an upgraded senior center at NYCHA Astoria Houses.
It would also bring a fully funded ferry dock, to help increase public transit service.
“Astoria Cove will bring much needed infrastructure… and economic development to transform an isolated and underutilized area of Western Queens,” said John Mavroudis, Managing Partner with 2030 Astoria Developers, the team behind the Astoria Cove project.
The City Council’s Land full Land Use Committee voted 17 in favor of it, with zero against and 1 abstention.
With committee approval, the final step is for it to be passed by the entire council on November 25th. However, it is almost certain to be approved. The council typically defers to the judgment of the council person who represents the district where the development is going to take place.
“I am honored to have had a great partner in the de Blasio administration during this historic negotiation process,” Constantinides said.
“I am proud of this agreement and I thank Council Members Greenfield and Weprin for their leadership and guidance in this historic process, as well as my other colleagues in the Council,” he said.