June 18, 2014 By Michael Florio
Community Board 1 voted to deny the developer of a massive Astoria apartment complex with the zoning change needed to move ahead with the project– unless the developer agrees to meet a long list of conditions.
The conditions, announced at the Community Board 1 monthly meeting in Astoria last night, covered a variety of issues, but none more so than affordable housing.
The board wants the developer, Alma Realty, to increase the number of affordable units from 295 to about 590 units—equating to about 35 percent of the 1,689 units to be built.
Alma Realty plans to construct five buildings, ranging in height from six to 32 stories, on the Hallets Point peninsula—in a development called Astoria Cove.
In addition to the apartments, Alma plans to develop a waterfront esplanade, a public elementary school, a supermarket and 54,000 square feet of retail space.
However, the board focused heavily on affordable housing. It wants Alma to build a significant number of affordable two bedroom units in each building, which can cater to families. It also wants the affordable units to be integrated among all five residential buildings.
The board said that all tenants—whether they live in an affordable or market-rate units—must have the same access to building amenities. Furthermore, those units deemed “affordable” must remain so for the life of the building,
The board also stated that the affordable units should “accommodate low, moderate and middle-income individuals and families.”
The board’s vote is not binding and is merely advisory. However, the vote is taken into consideration when it is reviewed by the Queens Borough President, the City Planning Commission and ultimately the city council that puts it up for a vote.
The board also put forward other conditions.
The board wants Alma to create additional parking spaces. It wants the number of spaces to increase from 900 to more than 2,000. The board claims that there will not be enough parking spaces as the development matures—especially as the number of visitors, shoppers and restaurant goers increases.
The board wants Alma to work harder to establish ferry service and to bring a medical center to the area.
In terms of jobs, the board said that local residents, particularly younger people seeking apprenticeships, should receive priority, when it comes to construction, security and maintenance jobs.
“We want jobs for the neighborhood and as a union member myself, I would like union jobs,” said Community Board 1 Chairman Vinicio Donato, to a big applause from the many union members in attendance.