Astoria’s Innovation QNS Developers Share Changes Amid Skepticism

ASTORIA, QUEENS – Developers creating a “cultural center” that will change part of Astoria on Wednesday found a number of changes in their proposal, although they largely failed to reassure community council members who were still wary of the project.

The $ 2 billion proposal, called Innovation QNS, involves redeveloping five blocks from 37th Street to North Boulevard, between 35th and 36th Avenues, bringing in 12 new buildings with 2,800 apartments, offices and cultural facilities. grocery store and other amenities in the “unfinished” area. southern Astoria, the developers say.

As they prepare to participate in the lengthy urban review process for resonance, the developers – a joint team of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and BedRock Real Estate Partners – spoke to the Community Council 1 on Wednesday to provide information on the project.

Another 27-story tower; no more school

In particular, the developers have shown that they have increased the number of 27-storey towers from one to two to shift the density of the project towards North Boulevard and from the residential side streets of Astoria.

Charts showing old (left) and new (right) Innovation QNS plans, including a second 27-story building closer to North Boulevard. (ODA Architecture / Community Board 1 / Zoom)

The change came in response to public concerns about the surplus on 35th Avenue, said architect Eran Chen. Other changes include widening the pedestrian walkway near Steinway Street by narrowing nearby buildings, as well as adding dog walks and other passive lawns.

“I think all these little things have greatly improved the plan we had before,” Chen said.

But board members were surprised to learn that previous plans to build a 600-seat gymnasium had disappeared in recent days after the city’s school building management told developers it was no longer interested in building a school on the corner plot that developers had allocated. .

The 2,845 apartments built with Innovation QNS will include 2,120 apartments delivered at market rates and 725 apartments at an affordable price. These apartments will be available to families earning 60 percent of the area’s average income, as provided by option 1 of the city’s mandatory inclusive housing program, but developers have hinted they are ready to change that plan.

“We expect there will be some discussion,” said Jerry Johnson, the developer’s lawyer.

The look of the area that is planned to change as it now looks. (ODA Architecture / Community Board 1 / Zoom)

No details

Throughout the meeting, board members pressured developers to disclose information they said was missing from the presentation, including market-level apartment price levels, the size of each apartment, and details on developer coverage of affected groups.

The height of the proposed buildings, which will reach 280 feet, also remained central to the debate. Elizabeth Erion, who chairs the CB1 Land Use and Zoning Committee, has suggested that the tallest towers will be more suitable in Long Island City development.

“I’m worried about heights, and I think most people in society are concerned about heights,” Erion said.

The developers demonstrated the layout of the square on 42nd Street, south of 35th Avenue. (ODA Architecture / Community Board 1 / Zoom)

Board member Jeffrey Martin also complained that the promised two acres of open space are largely “internal to construction,” making it undesirable to the general public. Chen, an architect, objected that other public facilities around the greenery would help make them attractive – and later added that the buildings were made taller to maximize open space.

“The community will not benefit if the tower has one floor or two floors less,” Chen said. “But it is absolutely profitable [from] open space ”.

Currently being reviewed by city agencies, the Innovation QNS proposal will be completed by the end of March, after which a months-long process of reviewing “ULURP” will begin, the developers said. The community council will recommend whether the city should approve the project, but the final decision is likely to be made by the city council early next year.

If approved, construction, according to planning documents, will take about 10 years and be completed by about 2032.

Kayla Levy contributed to the report.

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