On January 3rd, 2018, City Planning held a public hearing for the zoning map and zoning text amendment at 35-10 Astoria Boulevard in Queens. The proposed rezoning would facilitate a new seven-story mixed-use building. The ground floor will be used for commercial purposes and other floors will contain 35 dwelling units with 11 of the units as permanently affordable.
The owner, Astoria Boulevard LLC, is presently seeking two land use actions: an amendment to extend an adjacent commercial zoning district one block to the east to cover the Astoria Boulevard block front between 35th Street and 36th Street, which is presently a residential zoning district, and a zoning text amendment to designate the site as a Mandatory Inclusional Housing (“MIH”) designated area under option 2 of the MIH Program. At the public hearing, Partner Joshua Rinesmith of Akerman LLP presented the plans on behalf of the owners. The site is currently occupied by a two-story nonconforming building with two small commercial tenants. Rinesmith stated that the site is “underutilized and in need of significant investment for repair.”
During the hearing, Commissioner Michelle R. de la Uz asked for a unit breakdown for both the MIH and non-MIH units. Rinesmith explained the plan called for 29 one-bedroom and 6 two-bedroom units. Of those units, 9 one-bedrooms and 2 two-bedrooms would be permanently affordable units. The owners looked at the possibility of adding more two-bedroom units but given the site’s unique configuration, the amount of linear frontage in the front and the rear of the building, and minimum room size requirements, the only way to add more two-bedrooms would result in a decrease in the number of units in the building. A decrease in units would result in a decrease in the affordable units.
On October 10, 2017, Queens Community Board 1 voted 27-3 in favor of the zoning map and text amendment.
De La Uz also asked for the rationale on why Option 2 was chosen instead of Option 1 given concerns by the Queens Community Board 1 about the level of affordability. Option 1 provides for 25% of residential floor area to be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 60% Average Minimum Income (“AMI”), which is $46,620 per year for a family of three. Option 2 provides that 3% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 80% AMI, which is $62,150 per year for a family of three. Rinesmith stated that the owners had consulted with Councilman Costa Constantinides of District 22 with respect to Option 2. He also stated that with “respect to the median family income for the Astoria and Steinway neighborhood population areas, the income limits for one and two-bedrooms are roughly the median family income for those two neighborhoods.”
At this point, there were no further questions and the hearing was closed.
CPC: 35-10 Astoria Boulevard Rezoning (C 170299 ZMQ).
By: Dorichel Rodriguez (Dorichel is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2017.)