City botched Astoria Cove affordable housing numbers

Officials looked at outdated maps when setting levels for applicants for below-market units
October 31, 2014 09:15AM

City planners miscalculated the affordable housing requirement at the proposed Astoria Cove development on the Queens waterfront, officials admitted.

Alma Realty is looking to re-zone the area to build a massive new mixed-use development that will include roughly 1,700 residential units. The developer has proposed that 20 percent of the units will be set aside for those who earn 80 percent or less of the area median income. In 2013, that number was $68,700 for a family of four. It turns out, however, that — in order to get a tax break from the state — Alma Realty will have to dedicate 20 percent of the apartments to households that make less than 60 percent of the area median income. In 2013, this was $51,540 for a family of four.

Because planners at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development looked at outdated maps, according to Crain’s, the affordable units will actually have to be made available to residents who make less than that. Council members, as well as Borough President Melinda Katz, have demanded a higher percentage of affordable units.

“This doesn’t change the fact that affordable housing will be mandatory instead of voluntary and doesn’t alter the project’s economics,” an HPD spokesman said in a statement, cited by Crain’s. “We’re just relieved we caught it while the council is still deliberating the project and has a chance to weigh this as they make their decision.”

The City Planning Commission approved the plan last month. The City Council is slated to vote on the project at the end of November. [Crain’s] — Claire Moses