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Giant Mixed-Use Development Planned for Astoria/LIC, Would Bring 2,700 Apartments and Commercial Space

Rendering: ODA New York

July 1, 2020 By Christian Murray

A development team plans to rezone five city blocks on the border of Long Island City and Astoria in order to erect more than a dozen buildings that would consist of 2,700 apartments, a school, as well as retail and office space.

The real estate team—comprised of Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners– plans to spend $2 billion to create a new mixed-use district between 37th Street and Northern Boulevard, bound by 35th and 36th Avenues.

The development area, which is little over 8 ½ acres in size, is currently zoned for manufacturing and a rezoning is required before the development can move forward. The plans call for buildings that for the most part would range in height from 10 to 26 stories.

“This is an opportunity to reactivate five largely dormant blocks, next to the Steinway Street Corridor and Kaufman Arts District,” said Tom Corsillo a spokesperson for the development group.

The developers believe their plans would be a boost for the local economy at a time when small businesses are struggling. They say it would create 5,400 jobs, consisting of 3,700 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent jobs.

The proposed development—dubbed “Innovation QNS”– would be 2.7 million square feet in size, with 2.2 million square feet dedicated for residential use. The plans include 235,000 square feet of office space; 192,000 square feet of retail space; and 88,000 square feet for community use. The proposed school would be 80,000 square feet.

The developers say that a portion of space would be made available to startups, artists/makers and community-based nonprofit profit organizations at below-market rents.

Rendering of 35th Avenue (Rendering: ODA New York)

“This is a time when people desperately need jobs, and this project will serve as an enormously important stimulus for Astoria and New York City,” said Larry Silverstein, chairman and founder of Silverstein Properties, in a statement.

The office space would be concentrated in two buildings on 35th Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets, with some on Northern Boulevard.  The larger buildings—primarily residential in nature—would go up by Northern Boulevard and Steinway Street.

The developers said that 700 of the 2,700 units would be “affordable.” They are required to provide affordable housing under the city’s Mandatory Affordable Housing program that requires affordable housing with rezonings. The developers plan to offer the affordable units to people who earn up to 60 percent of the median income level.

Some of the affordable housing would also be offered to seniors. The senior housing would be managed by HANAC, an Astoria-based non-profit.

Rendering of Civic Park (Rendering: ODA New York)

The existing UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas on 38th Street as well as the PC Richards building on Steinway Street would be demolished to make way for the development. A new multiplex cinema would be incorporated into the new development and PC Richards is expected to move nearby.

“We are not displacing residents or taking away housing or parking and the businesses that are here today will be relocated nearby or within the development,” said Tracy Capune, vice president of Kaufman Astoria Studios on a conference call.

The project, designed by ODA New York, would have a heavy focus on open space, with more than 2 1/4 acres—or 26 percent of the total site area– dedicated toward it.

The developers aim to build a park around the existing Playground Thirty Five at the corner of Steinway and 35th Avenue. Additionally the development would include several urban plazas, gardens and courtyards.

The open space is represented in green (Rendering: ODA New York)

“Public open space is the foundation of our plan and it is clearly something we can add to in a district that is sorely lacking in greenspace,” Capune said.

The developers say that the plans are based on two years of ongoing discussions with area stakeholders.

Capune said that the plans have been shaped by discussions with community leaders and business groups, such as the Steinway Astoria Partnership. The developers have also been in discussions with nearby businesses owners and say that they have conducted an online survey of 1,200 residents.

The developers plan to start the ULURP rezoning process in the spring or fall of 2021.

The plans would therefore go before Community Board 1 next year and the city council would likely to vote on it before the end of 2021. The development is located within the 26th Council District which is represented by Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer took to twitter Thursday to announce he opposed it.

The developers aim to break ground in 2023 and complete the entire project within 10 years.

Pedestrian Plaza (ODA New York)

Site Map: (Innovation QNS)

email the author: [email protected]

35 Comments

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Geo

Yes!! Good news during these hard times. The construction is the major turn-off until this is done. If they added some more parking areas in each development it would be great. Maybe some more green ideas, like green rooftops. Some more community gardens. Repaved all the streets after all the construction. Perhaps added a bus line or two for commuters from the train stops to their buildings. If they add some more requests with the community in mind this could be very beneficial for all. Reduce the amount of housing units and in combination add more of the affordable units.

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COCED

From so many negative comments I understand that the prevailing thought is – don’t change anything. it’s crap but it’s our crap and we’re used to it! New jobs? – no, we don’t need them. Changed environment with apartment buildings, retail space, and parks instead of dilapidated parking lots and former warehouses? -no, we’re used to our lovely sights.

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Anonymous

It’s MIHZQA, Mandatory Inclusion Housing Zoning for Quality and Assurance.

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your_neighbor

They have been talking about this for at least 3 or 4 years, seems like the Silverstein group would have brought this to Uniform Land Use committee before 2021. I can’t see it happening, unless they are waiting until 2021 for VanBramer to be term limited out of office.

With all that said I truly welcome the investment of people who think big and are genuinely improving upon some of these dilapidated warehouses, vacant lots, private parking lots and the movie theater which is great but could be built upon for greater public use while still keeping a movie theater in the neighborhood. Best wishes to the developers.

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Sara Ross

More parking spaces going to be taken up and the trains will be even more crowded. We need stores not more residential buildings!

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Kp

Can you build for families and not just to take the $$$ and run? Make it possible for people to settle in and contribute.Not ..just like where the property developers live…Hey
SEN mike G…can you make that happen? We never get a say on how our neighborhood gets shaped or planned just the politicos and the developers:(

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SUSAN BUTLER

Most current tenats will not be able to afford the rent, and the jobs are only temporary.
What good is it.

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We love change

Bring it on. More jobs, more business, more housing. Stop all your crying. This is what QUEENS needs. Instead of non stop complaining get off your seat and make a difference. Internet am chair quarterbacks at it again.

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J.D.

At the end of the day, I’ll take anything that gentrifies the neighborhood! Last weekend I was trying to listen to a Mahler record. However, the braying and bleating of proles from 30th Ave was so loud, it was difficult to enjoy myself. I pay over $3,500 for a 1BR, and didn’t expect this crowd.

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Larry Penner

Record construction in Long Island City has not been accompanied by any significant increase in transit capacity to accommodate thousands of new residents. The same is true for thousands more who commute from other neighborhoods to jobs in LIC.

There are opportunities to increase capacity and service by running trains more frequently mid-day, evenings, overnight and weekends on the #7 line. Until the 1980’s, there was Manhattan bound express service till 12:30 PM. Flushing bound express service began after 1 PM. There has been no express service between 10 AM and 3 PM due to periodic ongoing track, power, signal, and routine maintenance projects for decades.

There are opportunities to increase capacity and service by running trains more frequently mid-day, evenings, overnight and weekends for both the #7 and G subway lines. There is always equipment used primarily for rush hour peak service that is available to provide additional service during off peak hours. It is a question of finding millions of dollars more to cover operating costs for additional service.

Why not extend 8 of 14 Long Island Rail Road trains currently terminating at Hunters Point during AM rush hour to LIC? Turn trains around to provide reverse commuter service. In the PM rush hour, start 7 of 12 trains from LIC instead of Hunters Point. Establish new off peak, mid day and evening service between LIC and Jamaica.

New ferry services will be able to accommodate only so many riders. In many cases, a majority of new residents and employees will need the subway rather than the ferry to access employment, educational, medical and entertainment opportunities in Manhattan and other boroughs. The continued economic success of new business coming to LIC is dependent upon not only additional transportation capacity, but capital improvements to sewer, water, electrical and utility assets as well. Municipal fire, police and sanitation services will also have to be expanded. What is the cost and who will pay for all these additional capital improvements and services?
(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)

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Jillian Krebsbach

dumb idea. I hope they vote it down. Astoria doesn’t need any more luxury buildings here with rent prices already going up here 20-25% in the past 5 years.

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James

Yeah good luck with that, the way crime is going in this city and how these politicians are driving us back to the crappy 70’s and 80’s it will be like Escape From New York here. I hope to be out of this sh!thole long before that.

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lem

completely wrong for the neighborhood, looks like they’re trying to recreate the soulless corporate wasteland seen in every other city these days. generic yuppie crap. can’t wait for the inevitable displacement and strain on infrastructure.

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jenastoriat

Another land grab by developers. This would push out many small businesses, overburden transit, and ultimately raise cost of living in Astoria LIC. Developers “affordable” is a bad joke. We need more green space, much more, not $5k studios and the like.

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Duh

Did you even read the article? You are getting a lot more green space. But keep on spewing non sense before actually reading the article. There was even pictures of all the green space!

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Peter Beadle

The affordable housing number is way too low, and someone had better make sure it is truly affordable.

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JD

Adding to the glut of unaffordable apartments at a time where mass evictions are looming: CHECK. Adding more unaffordable retail and commercial space in the post-Covid economy, with huge office vacancy levels throughout the city, and empty stores lining Steinway: CHECK. And with all of this folly, giving real estate developers a 30-year tax abatement: CHECK. When will this city ever learn to reverse course? We need a moratorium on this type of insane development.

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Anonymous

I love childish comments like this. Who pays for your affordable apts? Oh yeah, the takers expect the working suckers to subsidize them in perpetuity.

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Diane

Will this be more ‘affordable housing’ like the $2000 and up studios that are billed as affordable housing? Condos are not affordable housing. As I’ve asked many times before, who decides the definition of ‘affordable housing’? Can’t anyone on your reporting staff investigate/answer this?

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sunnysider

If you can’t build housing on parking lots, where can you build it?

Let’s see the NIMBY/DSAs go nuts on anti-urbanist policies in the comments below!

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AstoriaOG

I agree. Better to build it there then actually displace people in buildings and homes when the landlord sells.

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"Jobs? My pandemic reponse wiped them out"

Highest unemployment rate EVER, across the entire country.
A game show host is managing a pandemic…it’s AOC’s fault!

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JOB KILLER GIANARIS MUST GO

tell that to the mixologist and her marxist brethren who chased big bad Amazon away! great work! The city is 9 billion in the hole! Didn’t need that revenue anyway. The jobs that went with them?? they were HIGH PAYING which to the uneducated means HIGHER TAX Revenue. Keep voting in airheads and have fun

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Bill

Wow more condos and overpriced retail. I can barely contain my excitement for something the area sorely needs. At what point in human history will developers actually give and add something meaningful and useful to this area?

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lem

“developers” don’t actually develop, they’re better described as leeches or vultures. they don’t care about what people actually need or want, it’s about squeezing as much profit out of every square foot and then leaving once they’ve ruined the neighborhood.

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Save the Robots

~300 people are currently leaving NYC per day. With all the present, looming, and future problems facing New York, this number will very likely increase.

Who do they expect to fill these apartments?

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Anonymous

I love when they say these developments will “create jobs” yeah, if you’re a construction worker. And really, the pandemic has proven increased density is not good! People are leaving for the suburbs or other cities where there’s more space!

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Sara Ross

Anonymous – most times construction is done by non-union workers. That’s why it’s usually shoddy.

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