Nov. 1, 2021 By Christian Murray
The City Council approved two rezoning applications last month paving the way for two large-scale developments in western Queens.
The developments are in Woodside and Astoria and each consists of about 200 rental units with ground floor retail and space for cultural groups. The rezonings are both within the confines of Council District 26 and will add more than 400 apartments to the district, which is represented by Jimmy Van Bramer.
“These two rezonings will bring over 100 units of affordable housing to the District, more than two-thirds of which will be priced at 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or lower. This is the main reason why I – along with both Community Boards 1 and 2 – overwhelmingly supported them both,” Van Bramer said in a statement.
The Woodside development is located on Roosevelt Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets and consists of a 13 story, 213 unit complex. About 10 stores along Roosevelt avenue will be bulldozed to make way for the project.
Community Board 2 voted in favor of the project, 30-5, on June 3. The development, which has an official address of 62-04 Roosevelt Ave., was then approved by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on July 20.
The community board approved the plan, requiring the developer to set aside 25 percent of the units for affordable housing—at an average of 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI)—in according with city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement. That number equates to 54 units.
Van Bramer said that he was able to get a commitment from the developer, Woodside 63 Management LLC. , to increase the number of affordable units to 64 (30 percent of the 213 units) at an average 60 percent AMI. The 60 AMI equates to a household income of $68,220 for a family of four.
The developer plans to offer the affordable units at a range of tiers—40 percent (formerly homeless), 60 percent and 80 percent AMI—to achieve the 60 percent average.
The developer plans to construct a building that would also include 7,500 square feet of space dedicated to arts groups. Some of the space will be taken by Mare Nostrum Elements, a Woodside-based cultural group.
The city council typically votes in accordance with the wishes of the member who represents the district where a rezoning is proposed — in what’s known as member deference.
Van Bramer, who represents the district, issued a statement as to why he backed the plan.
“With regards to modifications – 62-04 Roosevelt is an area that desperately needs more affordable housing, especially near the Woodside LIRR and 61st St. express stop, which is why I fought to get the number of affordable units raised to 30 percent of the total available units – an unprecedented number in this area – with 10 percent of those set aside for formerly homeless.
“We also partnered with Mare Nostrum Elements, a Woodside-based and queer led arts group, to create an arts space within 62-04 and influenced the developer to create an arts non-profit – that will help connect Woodside-area artists with affordable art and studio space.
In addition to the affordable housing and dynamic partnerships with Mare Nostrum…., 62-04 will include free public wi-fi via NYC Mesh and electric vehicle charging stations, and … employ union staff.”
The Astoria development will be going up at 11-01 33rd Ave., near Socrates Sculpture Park, and will be a seven-story development consisting of 199 units, as well as ground floor retail and space for non-profits.
Community Board 1 narrowly voted in favor of the project by a vote of 17 for and 14 against—with 3 abstentions. The proposal includes approximately 50 units set aside for affordable housing in accordance with the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing requirements.
The units will be for people who earn an average of 60 percent of the Area Median Income.
The building will also include space for the Mark A. West Jr. Museum and Center for the Arts, a black and queer led art space.
The developer aims to complete construction by the end of 2022.