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Borough President Rejects Astoria Cove Rezoning

July 31, 2014

In a marked step forward for equitable development, Borough President Melinda Katz has weighed in on the proposed Astoria Cove development – and found it wanting.

In a marked step forward for equitable development, Borough President Melinda Katz has weighed in on the proposed Astoria Cove development – and found it wanting.

“The projected rents for the proposed affordable housing would still be higher than what current local Astoria residents, who will bear the brunt of the impacts of the proposed project, could afford to pay,” she said in her finding.   – CrainsNY

Now that both the Community Board and the Borough President have rejected the proposed rezoning, it’s up to the City Council and de Blasio Administration to truly set a new paradigm for affordable housing going forward. While Alma reality took a small step forward from its original proposal in agreeing to write 20% affordability into the zoning code, and committing to not using the Poor Door, this was largely a case of agreeing to things it would do anyway. 20% affordability is already needed to access tax breaks and zoning bonuses, and using the poor door structure is arguably more costly than building an integrated development.

We need more than just some minor changes from the Bloomberg era if we’re going to solve our affordable housing crisis – we actually need more affordable housing. Developers should understand that the days of doing the absolute minimum in regards to building affordable housing are over. 20% affordable, especially if it doesn’t actually even meet the affordability needs of the neighborhood, is just not a fair deal for local residents or New York as a whole. And remember, this is a rezoning that is would also turn much-needed industrial space in New York into residential, costing us good jobs and increasing the value of the land to Alma enormously.

Borough President Katz did the right thing in advising that this proposed rezoning be rejected. Let’s hope that Astoria Cove gets the message, goes back to the drawing board, and comes back with a proposal with substantially more and better affordable housing that everyone – the city, the developers, and the community – can get behind.

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