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Community Board 1 Approves Developer’s Plan for 11-Story Building Near 30th Avenue Train Station

Rendering of the 30-02 Newtown Ave. development presented to Community Board 1 Tuesday

Jan. 22, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A developer’s application to rezone a property near the 30th Avenue train station in order to build an 11-story, 104-unit apartment complex got the approval of Community Board 1 Tuesday night.

MEDREP Associates, a Long Island City-based company, filed an application to rezone 30-02 Newtown Ave. last year and now the plans are undergoing the public review process.

The board’s approval, by a vote of 19 to 11 with three abstentions, was the first step in the seven-month rezoning process–otherwise known as ULURP.

The application calls for a change to the property’s zoning from C4-4A to C4-4D, which represents an increase in the allowable buildable area.

MEDREP plans to build a 140,000 square foot mixed-use complex that would also include ground floor retail space and space for a community facility– such as a for non-profit organization or a medical center.

The 104-unit project would include 26 “affordable” housing units, in accordance with the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which requires the construction of affordable units upon a rezoning.

Rendering of the development presented at the Community Board 1 Meeting Tuesday

The board’s vote on the plan is advisory, and the rezoning application will now move on to the Queens Borough President, who will also issue an advisory opinion. The application will then be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, before the City Council votes on the plan. The City Council makes the ultimate decision.

The public as well as board members got to weigh in on the application Tuesday and the plans did have critics.

“With all of the empty apartments in Astoria, I don’t really see why we need an 11-story building around a bunch of smaller buildings,” said Astoria resident Jade Oliver.

Board member and City Council candidate Evie Hantzopoulos was also critical of the project, saying that it didn’t include enough affordable housing. She said that 26 units was not enough.

“For me, I want to see more housing built, but I want to see truly affordable housing,” she told the Queens Post after the meeting. She said that the ratio of affordable units to market rate units was too low. “It’s such an imbalance.”

The developer plans to offer the affordable housing units to households earning– on average — 60 percent of the Area Median Income, in accordance with MIH guidelines. Some apartments will be offered to households making 40 percent of the AMI, while others priced for those making 80 percent of the AMI.

Thirteen of the 26 units will be reserved for residents of Community Board 1.

The income and rental levels for the affordable housing units–as presented at CB1 meeting Tuesday

Advocates for the project said that the development makes sense given its proximity to the subway and how it is located on a busy corridor.

The development site is currently occupied by three interconnected two-story commercial buildings, which will all be demolished.

The buildings are home to a tire repair shop, a warehouse and offices. The project site has frontage along 31st Street, Newtown Avenue and 30th Street.

Renderings of the proposed development show that the height of the project would be staggered, ranging from six to 11 stories. The tallest section of the building would be concentrated along 31st Street, with the scale declining toward 30th Street.

The area designated in the plans for a “community facility” was originally going to be tenanted by the Astoria Performing Arts Center. However, the center no longer needs the space and is operating out of 44-02 23rd St., which was home to the Secret Theatre.

The developer is now in talks with other nonprofits to take the space.

The proposed development site at 30-02 Newtown Ave. (Google)

Rendering of the development presented at the Community Board 1 Meeting Tuesday. The building is significantly taller on the 31st Street side of the site.

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25 Comments

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Dan Fast

There goes the neighborhood (again(still))! Seriously, much more truly affordable housing is needed in Astoria, and the city at large. I define “affordable” as 25% of your net income (income after taxes), with 30% the absolute maximum. That actually used to be the yardstick.

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Anonymous

at least the developers were thoughtful enough to pursue Option 1. look at the rents above, they actually do seem affordable. and if they do not get rezoned they will probably just build a big condo building with no affordable units. they could build residential today. i rather mandatory permanent affordable housing than nothing.

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Frank Rafael

What will Astoria do with all these huge empty buildings already built or in the process of being built? All EMPTY, and will stay empty, sorry investors, I wish you good luck.

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your_neighbor

Nice to see that Astoria is finally modernizing and growing as it was looking like Astoria was starting to wither away. This should bring in new residents and new customers for our local businesses.

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Anonymous

Agreed. I look forward to new customers at my business. They already killed amazon which would of helped out local businesses/restaurants 10000x.

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Jeremy

Great to see more housing built in this area. That quote about empty apartments is wrong and not based on facts. NYC has a very low vacancy rate, it’s gone up some since COVID, but overall it’s much less than other cities. A lower vacancy rate means higher rent since landlords have less competition.

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Evans

Very unhappy with the changing scenery of Astoria. Wish we could hold on to the old Astoria.

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jenastoriat

Truly awful in appropriate plan. I encourage 30th ave residents to contact the borough president and get this scheme stopped. I have no doubt that all off the “non profit” PR is about getting tax breaks for the developer, at the expense of the local community and taxpayers. (Seriously, who wants to live feet adjacent to the noisy NW tracks anyway?)

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Anonymous

blame all of your queens counselman and women for getting payoffs for this money in their pockets for sure – TRUTH

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RE Fact checker

Where did Jade Oliver get her info regarding empty apartments?? From the market reports I’m seeing Western Queens has always been 95% + occupancy. Please tell her supply helps prices. Look at the west village…the most expensive neighborhood in NYC. Why? Because they don’t allow new buildings!

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BoriquaGato

Additional supply doesn’t help prices when developers keep these units empty until they get their artificially high price. Rents for older stock have dropped significantly. The only reason the occupancy rate is 95% is because a sizeable chunk of the units are still occupied by long term rent stabilized tenants that pay below “market.” This includes the half dozen snowbirds in my building alone that pay $700 for a one bedroom but live in Florida for 8 months a year. If you were to examine occupancy rates for apartments that have turned over in the last 10 years, the occupancy rate drops dramatically.

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Baklava

This corner needed a facelift. I will be happy to see something other than a old tire shop.

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Sean Bouklis

The Finkelstein family has been in Astoria for over 100 years! I’ve also been in the community for a long time and I am glad to them in charge of this project, not a big random developer who doesn’t know what it’s like to live in Astoria.

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Josh Koogel

We desperately need more housing here in Astoria, people will come back post covid, apartments will fill up again and prices will go up. We need this new housing to keep the supply in check. As a local business owner I also look forward to this project brining new residents and more customers to my shop. The affordable housing being built with private dollars is also a plus for the community.

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Astoria4life

Agree fellow local biz owner here…We need all the help we can get post this terrible time and we need a boost of energy to this neighborhood. I’m happy the cb board sees the benefits of this project for local business owners.

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Anonymous

Can someone who watched the zoom meeting please tell us how many parking spots it will it have? Is the car entrance on 30 Street and how will the traffic affect the park and school nearby? Thanks.

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Local Architect

Per NYC Zoning requirements for Zone C4-4D (which is being proposed in the ULURP) the building must provide 1 parking space for every 1,000 SF. If the bldg is 140k SF, then they need to provide 140 parking spaces. Other zoning guidelines may play a part to that number, however.

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DB

Jeez, that’s awful. The building is going to be less than 50 feet away from a subway line and they’re still expected to provide that much parking. That’s basically encouraging residents to get cars.

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Anonymous

This is considered a transit oriented development due to its close proximity to the subway. 140 spots will not be required.

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Pat Macnamara

Seems so tranquil in the artist’s renderings. Missing from them would be the elevated subway, typical backed up traffic on 31st street, and the bars just a stone’s throw from the front door. If another ghetto fabulous club opens up where Don Coqui was, occupants can look forward to restful nights and weekends. Community Board 11 members must have received nice, fat envelopes for their “vote”.

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