The building will offer permanent affordable housing and light manufacturing space for creatives in areas like photography and woodworking. On March 16, 2022, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for a rezoning application that would facilitate the construction of a nine-story mixed use building at 35-01 Vernon Boulevard in Astoria, Queens. The requested rezoning area consists of the northern portion of the block with 35th Avenue to the north, Vernon Boulevard to the west and 9th Street to the east. The existing site is a two-story manufacturing building for a business that handles auto parts that is relocating the business to the Bronx, where most of its employees already live. The requested rezoning area also includes an adjacent five-story residential building with a deli on the ground floor.
The building will have 107 units, with 26 permanently affordable units. There will be 58 one bedroom (45 market rate, 13 affordable), 38 two-bedroom (28 market rate, ten affordable), and eleven three-bedroom apartments (eight market rate and three affordable). A previous proposal for the building called for 118 total units, but the developer adjusted the number of units to allow for more family-sized apartments over studios, of which there are none in the new proposal. The affordable units are provided under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1, which requires 25 percent of the units to be offered at an average 60 percent area median income (AMI). For this project, nine units will be offered at 40 percent AMI, equating a rent of $823 for a one-bedroom, $981 for a two-bedroom and $1,126 for a three-bedroom; eight units will be offered at 60 percent AMI at $1,271 for a one-bedroom, $1,518 for a two-bedroom, and $1,746 for a three-bedroom; and nine units will be offered at 80 percent AMI at $1,719 for a one-bedroom, $2,055 for a two-bedroom, and $2,367 for a three-bedroom.
The building will also contain retail, office and light manufacturing uses. The light manufacturing uses will be designed as a “maker space” which will offer working space for small businesses and creatives who work in areas like photography, videography and woodworking. While there are many buildings with manufacturing uses in the surrounding area, most of those manufacturing spaces are geared toward heavy manufacturing and do not accommodate small studio space for creatives. The building will also have residential recreation spaces, parking in the cellar and bike storage for 58 bicycles. The building developers are also working to have an Oonee secure bike storage pod installed curbside.
To facilitate the construction of this building, the developers are requesting a rezoning from the singular residential zoning district to a larger residential district with a combined manufacturing district. The requested rezoning will change the permitted residential floor area ratio from 1.35 to 4.6 and allow for a manufacturing floor area ratio of 2.0.
Both the Queens Community Board 1 and Queens Borough President issued favorable recommendations for the project.
At the public hearing, the commissioners asked a few clarifying questions about the project. Several members of the public spoke in support of the application, emphasizing the need for affordable housing in Astoria and the importance of space for creatives to work.
City Planning will vote on the application on a later date.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)