This vote marks the end of the second step of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) – the required public review process. Now that Community 1 Council has voted to reject the development, the Queens District President and Township Council will have a chance to make recommendations as well.
Ultimately, the decision rests with the city planning committee, city council, and the mayor.
During deliberations Tuesday evening, the community council stated that this development would be historic for Astoria, and would change the economic makeup of the neighborhood for years to come.
Land Use Committee Chair Elizabeth Irion outlined the concerns of this project to her and other board members.
“This is unprecedented in this community area and we as a council over the years have supported large-scale developments, as long as the development is appropriate, it is contextual and does not overpower the local community,” said Irion. “It really is an inappropriate development for society.”
The vast majority of board members expressed concerns about the economic impacts of more than 2,000 market-priced apartments, the height of buildings and the impact on community infrastructure due to the influx of residents.
Irion also said that the proposed 200,000-square-foot retail space would compete with Steinway Street, negatively impacting local business.
Should the city agree to Innovation QNS, the project will add nearly 3,000 mixed-income apartments, including 725 affordable luxury apartments, on a permanent basis. More than 300 units will be available for less than $1,000 per month.
There will also be approximately two acres of land set aside for open public spaces that will be held by the developers.
According to their restrictive announcement, the developers have reassured local residents that they are required to pursue these community-oriented projects – such as open spaces and affordable housing. The future owners of the property will also have to maintain these aspects of the development, should it be sold later.
Tuesday night’s meeting heard the testimony of about 100 residents – for about two hours – many of whom opposed the project.
Dannelly Rodriguez, a lifelong resident of Astoria, said Innovation QNS is likely to force local families to move after apartments with over 2,000 rents increase in the surrounding area.
“All my life, two things have happened in Astoria – rent and luxury buildings,” Rodriguez said. “This is a luxury project charged with doing the same thing that was done for me and my family – displacing us from our home. This project does not like our community. We want 100% affordable housing.”
Supporters of the project contemplate 1,700 permanent jobs and nearly 4,000 construction jobs that will last more than 10 years; Others just want whatever affordable housing they can get.
New York City Local Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents of Astoria Homes or Queensbridge Homes said Astoria needed to embrace change.
We know we need accommodation. “We know we need jobs,” said a longtime Queensbridge Houses resident. “Let’s meet and make it happen.”
Omar, another resident, has lived in Astoria for the past 18 years. He stated that his neighborhood is not what it was 20 years ago and society cannot be afraid of the inevitable change.
“Nothing in Astoria was what it was when I came here and I came here. If we don’t invest in Astoria, we will lose Astoria,” Omar said. “You say no to 700 affordable apartments, people come and spend money in Astoria, To activate the Astoria.”
A spokesperson for QNS Innovation said they appreciate all the feedback they received during this process.
“The city’s official review process is designed to gather input from the public, and we’re thrilled to receive that input even as we continue to demonstrate that New York City – perhaps now more than ever – needs this $2 billion in private investment that will create desperately needed mixed-income homes. to it and 5,400 jobs while generating hundreds of millions of dollars to support infrastructure, public safety and education, said a spokesperson for innovation at QNS.
QNS innovation is scheduled to come before the district chief at the next public hearing on land use on Thursday, June 30, at 9:30 a.m. via Zoom.