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Queens Chronicle

CB 1 says ‘not so fast’ to Astoria Cove

Committee asks for more affordable housing, recreation center and more

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Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Thu Jun 26, 2014.

Union workers with Build Up NYC rejoiced as Chairwoman Elizabeth Erion informed Community Board 1 that the Community Development Committee recommended the Astoria Cove project be voted down.

“We’d like to see a number of things added until we as a committee feel comfortable voting in favor of this project,” Erion said before the board at Tuesday’s meeting.

Developers for the proposed Astoria Cove project met with CB 1 and residents last week to propose their idea to create a commercial and residential metropolis with waterfront access.

“I think this could be the most beautiful place in the entire city. I really think we can make that happen,” architect Jay Valgora said at the hearing.

But concerns over a lack of affordable housing, transportation and other issues left many hesitant to trust the developers completely to do the job correctly.

“We heard your concerns and we put a lot of thought into this,” Erion said before reading a four-page document containing all the modifications the committee would like the developers to make.

The first amendment CB 1 would like to be made is to increase the percentage of affordable units from 20 to 30 percent.

The units are to be affordable for low-, moderate- and middle-income families and priority given to locals.

During last week’s hearing, the developers said they were looking to increase the number of affordable units but would not commit to an exact percentage.

The committee is not only asking the developers to increase affordable housing but to ensure that units will be available during every phase as opposed to tacked on toward the end of what is expected to be a 10-year project.

In addition, Erion read that the committee would like more parking available, for the entire project to achieve LEED gold standards, relocate one of the playgrounds to a more central area, construct a community recreation center such as a YMCA, build a satellite medical facility and conduct a comprehensive study on ferry service to the area — something the developers recently committed to doing already.

After Erion read the proposed amendments, the board voted unanimously to turn down the developer’s proposal until the conditions are met.

“This is a major project and something that took a lot of thinking over,” CB 1 Chairman Vinicio Donato said. “You can get things out of developers, you can get them to work with the community. And as a union man, I’d love to see some union workers involved but I think this is a good first step.”

The developers did not speak after the vote was taken but they did appear displeased.

“I’m so happy they voted for us,” a member of Build Up NYC who would not give his name said. “It was like they were really thinking of us and the betterment of Astoria when they put those conditions together. I’m really excited to see where this goes.”

Welcome to the discussion.