ASTORIA – The New York City Council gave final approval to the Astoria Cove real estate developed on the Western Queens waterfront on November 25.
The Council voted unanimously to allow the 1700-apartment development, where 27 percent of the units will be affordable.
“The de Blasio administration and Council members tout the deal – the first major land use deal since the mayor took office – as a landmark achievement under new rules to require affordable housing in any project that needs zoning changes, but advocates say it’s not enough,” the Daily News reported.
“Developer Alma Realty initially offered 20 % affordable housing, but upped it to 27 percent, or 460 apartments under pressure from the Council… The landlord will set aside 5% of the apartments for families making 60% of the median income, with rents starting at $800, 15% with rents starting at $1200, and 7% at $1800,” the News wrote
“Council members said they’d demand similar concessions on any such project in the future said Councilman David Greenfield of Brooklyn, the land use chairman,” adding “We’ve set a very clear line in the sand.”
Opponents insisted that the final deal is not that different from the 20 percent affordable housing agreements seen during the Bloomberg administration.
“The lack of real affordability at Astoria Cove is a major step backward, not forward, for the entire city. It’s the opposite of progress…If future developments follow the example of Astoria Cove, more New Yorkers will be priced out of the city, and more neighborhoods will be auctioned off to the wealthy elite,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell of the group Real Affordability for All.”
Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents Astoria, disagreed with the critics. He believes the agreement reflects the principle that “Residential development in the 21st Century must be innovative, contextual, and inclusive of its community.”
Expressing pride in the process and the effort, he said “For the first time in City history, the developer will be required, by law, to provide permanently affordable housing that is within the reach of Astorians. In one of the largest agreements on affordable housing in city history, a record 27% of the development will be permanently reserved for low- and middle-income households.”
Councilman Mark Weprin, chair of the zoning subcommittee, said it was the best the pols could get. “I know there are people out there who say, oh, it should have been more. I’m telling you if you pushed for more, we may have gotten nothing. That’s how close we came on this,” he said.
Community activists also demanded union labor. Constantinides said “The development will also use a fully unionized workforce, bringing good jobs in an area that needs them. This agreement shows what we can achieve when the private and public sectors work together.
Constantinides added that “This agreement provides real benefits to the neighborhood and will help further link our booming communities along the East River. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all my colleagues in the City Council including Council Members Greenfield and Weprin, for their dedication. I am deeply honored to have had partners in these negotiations to build a better connected, and more affordable, City of New York.”