Oct. 9, 2014 By Michael Florio
The Astoria Cove mega development may have been approved by the City Planning Commission last week—but it is unlikely that it will be built according to its current plan.
The 1,700-unit plan still has to be approved by the city council and the most pivotal player in that decision is Councilman Costa Constantinides who has many concerns with it. He said that the plan does not provide enough affordable housing units —and the affordable apartments on offer are too expensive.
The city council is likely to rely on Constantinides’ recommendation when the development comes up for a vote–since it is customary for the council to follow the lead of the local elected official on land issues.
Alma Realty, the developer, said that 20% of the units would be “affordable.” That number was approved by the City Planning Commission.
“I cannot support the proposal as it currently sits with the council,” Constantinides said in a statement yesterday, adding that he agrees with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 1 that there is not enough affordable housing.
Constantinides would not state what the number should be since he is currently in negotiations with the developer. However, in June, Community Board 1 recommended that the number be increased to 35 percent (roughly 590 units).
However, the amount of units is not the only issue Constantinides has with the current proposal.
“The current proposal includes ‘affordable’ apartments that will actually be too expensive for the area and doesn’t capture what real Astorians need,” he said.
Under the current proposal, the affordable units range from $1,250 to $2,700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.
Constantinides is also working with the developer to address other issues, such as “increasing public transportation capacity on and off of the peninsula, and keeping the development within the fabric of the community,” he said.
Nevertheless, Constantinides said the development has the potential to be a great addition for Astoria.
“While the new housing stock is sorely needed, Astoria Cove must work for all Astorians,” he said. “The development, done correctly, has the opportunity to be a trans-formative moment for us but only if built to the highest standards.”