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Astoria Cove to Include More Affordable Units, Ferry Dock: Officials

By Jeanmarie Evelly | November 13, 2014 11:59am | Updated on November 14, 2014 4:40pm
 The Astoria Cove plan includes five mixed-use buildings, which would be constructed in four phases over a span of 10 years.
The Astoria Cove plan includes five mixed-use buildings, which would be constructed in four phases over a span of 10 years.
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Courtesy Davidoff Hutcher and Citron LLP

ASTORIA — The massive Astoria Cove housing development will include more affordable housing — 27 percent of the project compared to the 20 percent last proposed — as well as a ferry dock, officials announced Wednesday.

City Councilman Costa Constantinides announced at a council subcommittee meeting that pols were able to negotiate a deal with 2030 Astoria Developers to increase the affordable housing, which had been a point of contention during the city's review of the proposal.

"I'm happy to report that we have an agreement here at Astoria cove that truly integrates this development into our community," Constantinides said, according to a video of the committee hearing posted online.

"This is not a castle and a moat, this opens up our neighborhood."

2030 Astoria Developers, which includes the Queens-based Alma Realty, is looking to build five buildings with approximately 1,700 apartments on the Astoria waterfront, between 9th and 4th streets.

Under the revised plan, officials said 27 percent of the floor area of the project will be designated affordable. Of those, 5 percent will be for households earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), and 15 percent will be for those earning 80 percent of the AMI.

Another 7 percent will be for households at 125 percent of the AMI and some of those will be subsidized by the city, according to a spokeswoman for the councilman.

In a statement, Constantinides said the project is the first in the city's history where permanently affordable housing is required. Some rents at the development will be as low as $800 a month, he said.

Still, some said the revised plan does not go far enough in terms of affordability. In a statement on behalf of the housing coalition Real Affordability for All, Metropolitan Council on Housing director Jaron Benjamin called it a "bad deal," lead by De Blasio administration officials.

"The Astoria community wanted at least 35 percent affordability, and this deal at 27 percent fails to meet that standard,” his statement said.

But Constantinides heralded the project as a chance to revitalize this stretch of Astoria waterfront — what he described as "historically an isolated pocket of poverty" — bringing a new school, a supermarket, new open space and other improvements.

Officials also announced Wednesday a plan to fund the construction of a ferry dock at the Astoria Cove site, a response to previous concerns about how the project will affect transit in the area.

The Mayor's Office will provide $5 million for the ferry dock construction, while the rest will be subsidized by the Queens Borough President's office and Constantinides' office, a spokeswoman for the councilman said.

The exact ferry service was not immediately known.

Borough President Melinda Katz, who originally recommended against Astoria Cove in August, released a statement in favor of the modified proposal on Wednesday.

Gary LaBarbera, president of the union alliance group Build Up NYC, said in a statement that the developer has "agreed to create good jobs for all construction, building maintenance and security workers in Astoria Cove."

The City Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and Committee on Land Use recommended approval of the project Wednesday. The full City Council will vote on it later in the month.

"Astoria Cove will bring much needed infrastructure, housing, retail, jobs and economic development to transform an isolated and underutilized area of Western Queens," John Mavroudis, managing partner of 2030 Astoria Developers, said in a statement.

"This has been a very engaging process and we look forward to the next stage and then moving ahead with construction."