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Queens Chronicle

OPINION: Responsible development creates strong communities

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Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:53 am, Thu Aug 7, 2014.

Astoria Cove could be the next luxury residential development to line New York City’s valuable waterfront, four towers with more than 1,600 residential units, a public school and retail space, including a supermarket.

The proposed Astoria Cove development is currently moving through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the public process by which the city determines whether to allow a real estate company to build this project.

We join many community voices, including the local community board, in calling on the developer to engage all stakeholders and build responsibly.

Alma Realty has an opportunity to help keep Astoria affordable to working families with good jobs and affordable housing, but the developer has proposed Astoria Cove as a high-end project with the minimum number of affordable units, only 20 percent as of the latest plans they’ve shared.

And as the gap between the haves and have-nots widens in NYC, real estate developments such as Astoria Cove must create strong and diverse communities that keep the middle class in Astoria.

The developer should make a commitment to creating good jobs with opportunity for local residents and local, minority and women-owned businesses on the project.

A commitment to good jobs will keep a vital middle class in Astoria, bringing hundreds of construction, building maintenance and security jobs to Astoria, and with it, support for local businesses in the community. Alma should also resolve its ongoing labor dispute in Far Rockaway.

Construction work is one of the most dangerous jobs in New York City.

In collaboration with responsible employers in the construction industry, state-of-the-art training and apprenticeship programs focus on developing highly skilled workers with good safety practices.

Likewise, there is a partnership with responsible employers in the building maintenance, operations and security sector that have developed training programs to provide highly skilled workers in order to provide a high-quality service to the tenants and visitors to the buildings.

Astoria Cove is in a flood zone, and the developer’s own Environmental Impact Study has suggested that asbestos, PCBs, lead and other hazardous and toxic materials may be present on the site.

Alma Realty should complete the entire phase two of the environmental investigation and develop a remediation plan before any of the project moves forward, protecting current and future tenants, neighbors and visitors to the area.

In addition, it should be designed and built to withstand extreme weather and rising sea levels in an energy-efficient manner.

Astoria Cove could be an example of responsible real estate development that benefits all stakeholders in the community.

It is not too late for Alma Realty to do the right thing.

LaBarbera is the president of Build Up NYC, an alliance of working men and women committed to good jobs and responsible development.

Welcome to the discussion.