June 22, 2017 By Jason Cohen
Community Board 1 voted in favor of allowing Catholic Charities to construct a seven-story residential building in Astoria catering to low income seniors.
Catholic Charities needs a variance because its proposed building, which would be located at 23-11 31st Road, does not conform with existing zoning rules since it would be situated too close to the property line. However, the board held the view that senior housing is in such short supply and the non-conformity was not that significant that it gave the ok. The board’s recommendation, however, is advisory and it is the Board of Standards and Appeals that makes the ultimate decision.
The building would consist of 93 affordable dwelling units and would be across the street from another low-income senior complex that Catholic Charities manages. That complex, called the Catherine Sheridan Houses, has 240 units.
The new structure would go up on what is now a parking lot. It would include space for a community room and community facilities on the ground floor. There would be 14 to 16 residential units on each floor, from floors 2 through 7.
The architect working on the plans is listed as Dattner Architect, the firm used to design the massive Hallets Point project.
Details as to who would qualify for the houses are not known.
However, to qualify for the Catherine Sheridan Houses, seniors must be over 65 years of age, with singles earning less than $44,350 or two people under $50,700.
Tenants are selected via a lottery.
Elizabeth Erion, co-chair of the land use and zoning committee for CB1, felt it was important to have more senior housing in the community. According to the Catholic Charities, there are nearly 20,000 low-income seniors on the wait list for affordable housing in the 22nd Council District, the highest in the city.
“This is really an opportunity for us to try to address senior housing,” Erion said.
Erion said her only concern is the lack of parking. The proposed plan calls for 19 parking spots.
Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) has expressed his support for the development.
In next few months the proposal will be heard by the Board of Standards and Appeals.