Astoria rezoning approved

Astoria’s 238-block contextual rezoning received strong support from Council Member Vallone. On May 25, 2010, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s contextual rezoning plan for Astoria, Queens. The plan impacts 238 blocks bounded by 20th Avenue to the north, Broadway to the south, Steinway Street to the east, and the East River and Vernon Boulevard to the west. The rezoning replaces the area’s predominant R5 and R6 zoning with contextual zoning districts, including lower density R5B, R5D, R6A, and R6B districts that establish height limits and reinforce the residential neighborhood’s development patterns. Planning applied commercial zoning districts to 67 blocks developed with mixed uses, including the 31st Street corridor, which includes the elevated N and W subway lines. The City’s Inclusionary Housing Program will now apply to seventeen blocks rezoned to R7A.

At the City Planning Commission’s hearing, residents were supportive of the proposal, noting that the rezoning was necessary to prevent out-of-scale development and protect the area’s infrastructure. Two property owners, however, asked the Commission to modify the rezoning to accommodate their lots.

A representative of an industrial site at 35-10 Astoria Boulevard South, scheduled to be rezoned from R6 to R6B, asked the Commission to include his client’s property within the adjacent C4-3 district in order to make it more attractive to future commercial tenants. John Kaiteris, from HANAC Inc., an affordable housing developer planning to build a six-story, 66-unit senior housing facility at 31-30 33rd Street, asked the Commission to carve out HANAC’s property from the rezoning. Kaiteris said that the proposed R6B district would limit the building’s height to four stories and threaten the project’s financial viability. 7 CityLand40 (April 15, 2010).

The Commission approved the proposal, but carved out HANAC’s site so that it would retain its R6 zoning. The Commission pointed out that HANAC had devoted extensive time and resources toward building the senior housing and noted that the project’s scale would be comparable to nearby buildings. The Commission did not modify the Astoria Boulevard industrial site’s proposed zoning designation because it was beyond its scope of review.

When the rezoning reached the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee, John Young, director of Planning’s Queens office, said the plan received strong support from Queens Community Board 1 and Borough President Helen Marshall. Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., whose district includes Astoria, noted that the plan would be Astoria’s first comprehensive rezoning since 1961. He said that he had worked on the rezoning for many years, but once Planning got involved, the impact was like “the Allies hitting Normandy.”

The Subcommittee unanimously approved the application, and the Land Use Committee and full Council followed suit.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: QN 1,App’d, 26-1-1
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0
Council: App’d, 47-0-5

Council: Astoria Rezoning and Text Amendment (May 25, 2010).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.