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Queens Borough President Says No to Astoria Cove Project

By Jeanmarie Evelly | August 1, 2014 4:21pm | Updated on August 1, 2014 5:55pm
 The Astoria Cove plan includes five mixed-use buildings ranging from six to 32 stories in height, which would be constructed in four phases over a span of 10 years.
The Astoria Cove plan includes five mixed-use buildings ranging from six to 32 stories in height, which would be constructed in four phases over a span of 10 years.
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Courtesy Davidoff Hutcher and Citron LLP

ASTORIA — Queens Borough President Melinda Katz came out against the proposed Astoria Cove project on Thursday, citing concerns about the number of affordable units included in the plan and the strain it would put on local mass transit.

The project's backers, 2030 Astoria Developers, are applying for zoning changes to build five mixed-use buildings on the waterfront of Astoria's Hallets Point with approximately 1,700 apartments, as well as retail stores and space for an elementary school.

If approved by the city, the proposed development would be built at 26th Avenue between Fourth and Ninth streets.

In her recommendation against the project, Katz called for more affordable housing to be included, more than the 20 percent — or 345 units — that the developer most recently proposed.

She pointed to "a severe shortage of housing within reach of many lower to middle income households throughout New York City."

"There should be a larger percentage of affordable units provided to help meet the need for such housing in this area," her recommendation reads.

In June, Queens Community Board 1 called for the developers to boost the amount of affordable apartments to 35 percent.

Katz also expressed concerns about what impact the development would have on local traffic and how the neighborhood's public transit options are "already overburdened," among other reasons.

Local City Councilman Costa Constantinides said he agreed with many of Katz's worries.

"If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it," he said in a statement.

"This means providing ample affordable housing, good jobs both during and after the construction process, and dramatically increasing public transportation options on and off of the peninsula."

In a statement, an attorney for the developers said that while they were "disappointed" with the borough president's disapproval they were "pleased that her recommendation is based upon a very limited number of concerns."

"Her recommendation, like the recommendation made last month by Queens Community Board 1, does not object to the essential elements of the project, including its density, building heights and overall design," lawyer Howard Weiss said in a statement.

Addressing concerns about transit, Weiss said the Astoria Cove design includes a location for a ferry terminal should the city bring the service to Hallets Point. The plan also includes shuttle buses that will run to nearby subway stations, and Weiss said there have been "discussions with the Transit Authority about increased bus service."

The Astoria Cove proposal will go to the City Planning Commission next for a vote, then to the City Council.