All eyes in Astoria are on a new City Council member as a megaproject draws opposition from the local community board.
Resistance has popped up — as it always does for sizable projects in Queens — against the $2 billion Innovation QNS development, the New York Post reported. Local community members have cited gentrification and community character as reasons to deny the project the political approval it needs.
Unveiled in 2020 by Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and Bedrock Real Estate, the 2.7-million-square-foot mixed-use project would span five blocks at the intersection of Steinway Street and 35th Avenue and include 2,845 apartments (25 percent affordable), 200,000 square feet for retail and 250,000 square feet for small businesses and creatives.
Not everyone is on board with the plan, though. According to the Post, one member of the community board explained that “most people in the community are concerned about the heights.” Two of the buildings are slated to be 26 stories.
The development site is zoned for low-density manufacturing, requiring a rezoning. The review and approval process might start as soon as next month and reach the City Council in the early fall.
That’s where Julie Won comes in. According to the Post, the newly elected Council representative for Astoria hasn’t taken a position publicly about Innovation QNS. The Council’s “member deference” tradition means Won can shape or even kill the development, which is proposed to include 2 acres of open space, a movie theater, a grocery store and community health facilities.
Rezonings can be dicey with new Council members. Last month, Crystal Hudson, a rookie representative in Brooklyn, asked developers to rescind their applications for two projects on Atlantic Avenue, effectively spiking rezonings on the grounds that they started the approval process before she took office. The move likely sets the developers back a year.
The absence of public opposition from Won probably means she is willing to negotiate with the developers. Typically such talks result in cutting down the size of proposed buildings and increasing the affordability of the housing, as politicians seek a compromise that placates local opponents.
[NYP] — Holden Walter-Warner