Astoria Cove is a litmus test for affordable housing: OPINION

Cost breakdown, city subsidies and union labor among final details to be settled this month

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a rendering of Astoria Cove (Credit: STUDIO V Architecture)
Mayor Bill de Blasio and a rendering of Astoria Cove (Credit: STUDIO V Architecture)

Alma Realty’s Astoria Cove project, slated to receive a ruling from the City Planning Commission this month and then move on to the City Council for a final thumbs up, will serve as a benchmark for the mayor’s affordable housing plans, Crain’s columnist Greg David writes in a recent op-ed.

What percentage of affordable units, whether there will be a city subsidy and whether union labor will be mandated are all issues for which Astoria Cove may well set the tone going forward.

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So far, Astoria Cove has agreed to set aside 20 percent of the development’s planned 1,700 units for lower-income residents, regardless of whether a reciprocal density or height bonus is granted. But City Council could insist on a higher affordable number, leaving a question of whether the developer will accept a smaller profit or insist on a government subsidy as a result. And if the latter proves to be the case, will that be offered via low-cost financing, tax breaks or cash?

The question of building the affordable housing with nonunion workers also looms. That cost could differ by as much as 30 percent depending on the type of labor the development ultimately uses, according to a Regional Plan Association study cited by Crain’s. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland