Council approves Silverstein, BedRock’s $2B Innovation QNS
Project is a go after years of planning and negotiation
Innovation QNS, the $2 billion megadevelopment in Astoria proposed by Silverstein Properties, BedRock Real Estate Partners and Kaufman Astoria Studios, was approved by the full City Council on Tuesday.
Last week, Council member Julie Won and the developers ended months of negotiations with a deal to include affordability far beyond the city’s legal minimums for apartments on rezoned land. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams was said to play a major role.
The 3,200-unit project will include 1,436 permanently affordable units, double the amount initially proposed by the developers. Some 865 of those apartments will be reserved for people earning 30 percent or less of the area median income, which works out to $36,000 for a family of three.
In addition to renting some apartments at below market rates, the developers will set aside 142 supportive housing units and 157 for recipients of the city’s anti-homelessness vouchers. The deal also creates a $2 million fund to provide tenant legal assistance and help relocate tenants and businesses in the project area.
“I have stood with my community in demanding deeper affordability from this development,” Won said in a statement. “Because we held the line, the Innovation QNS project has doubled the number of affordable units than initially offered.”
In the months leading up to the Council vote, negotiations stalled over affordability levels, as Won demanded as many as 55 percent of the total units be preserved affordable. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards stuck his neck out for the project after the developers bumped affordability levels from 25 to 40 percent, and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams became a lead negotiator as the deal came together.
With approval out of the way, the developers now have to actually build the thing. And given the uncertainty surrounding the future of New York’s 421a tax break, which developers say is necessary to make affordable rental apartments pencil out, this is not necessarily a done deal.