Community Board 1 unanimously supported rezoning and special permit approvals sought by the company looking to build 11 residential buildings on the Astoria peninsula mostly occupied by the Astoria Houses.
Residents of these projects and other neighbors filled the Tuesday night meeting, all backing the project that would add parks and a supermarket to the desolate, run down area with a few requests and questions.
“I support the project, but do have a few desires,” Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, said.
The board is only advisory, but its approval is a step in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The Department of City Planning has the final say.
Halletts A Development Co. plans to build along the waterfront on First Street from Astoria Boulevard to 26th Avenue.
The proposal calls for 11 buildings ranging from 11 to 31 stories, which will provide 2,161 market rate apartments and 483 affordable units. Five of the buildings will be on the Astoria Houses campus, with 340 of the total 483 affordable units.
Astoria Houses residents will get about a year to claim 50 percent of the additional affordable apartments, according to Halletts A Development Company attorney Kenneth Fisher.
The developers would like to have one of the buildings devoted to senior affordable housing and are working with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan) to acquire federal funding through the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, Fisher said.
At the meeting, developers also noted the proposed 68,693 square feet of retail space, which includes a 30,000-square-foot supermarket, along with a parking garage.
Additionally, plans call for a school. Some Astoria Houses residents opposed it saying it would not allow children in the projects a chance to leave the development, while CB 1 members said the school would alleviate overcrowding in the district.
“We have been wanting a school for 25 years,” board member Frances Luhmann-McDonald said.
With the board’s approval came some stipulations. Members want the developers to put in writing their promises of expanded mass transportation (developers have worked with the Metropolitan Tranportation Authority to extend bus services) as well as traffic-calming measures. The board asked the group to upgrade and work to supplement city services like sewers and policing. (Plans include security guards and cameras.)
Thirdly, CB 1 wants expanded perpendicular parking on 27th Avenue, and, most importantly, the board asked developers to add a youth center and multipurpose facility separate from the proposed school.
“Youths need some place to come to be shown some love,” community advocate and CEO of Major Minor Astoria Network Force Khahondo Minor said. “We need mentorship.”
The fact that there is no center already “is a neglect of the Astoria Houses,” Coger said. “We have the desire for a state-of-the-art multicultural, multiethnic, multiservices facility.”
Other concerns were the completion of Astoria Boulevard and the traffic problems it could bring, access to clinics and lost views. The developers noncommittedly said they would consider solutions.