Proposed $2B mixed-use district with 2,800 new apartments in Astoria moves forward

Renderings by VERO Digital

A plan to construct a large-scale 2,800-home development in Astoria is progressing. The City Planning Commission on Wednesday voted in favor of Innovation QNS, a $2 billion mixed-use district proposed for five blocks in the borough of Queens, stretching from 37th Street to Northern Boulevard between 35th and 36th Avenues. The project will then go to the city council for a final vote, where it may face opposition from local representative, councilor Julie Won, who said she wants at least 50 percent of the housing to be affordable.

Innovation QNS was designed by ODA Architecture and is being developed in a private joint venture led by Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners. As 6sqft previously reported, most of the Astoria site, which consists of industrial and commercial buildings, is owned or operated by the development team.

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The 2.7 million square foot development would include 12 buildings, 2,800 new homes, 700 of which are permanent affordable, office space, a new school, retail, community health and wellness facilities, a multiplex movie theater, a grocery store and two acres of public space free space.

“Public space is the place where we can shape culture and create a level playing field in cities. We have the opportunity to make a big impact and transform quality of life by embracing the increasing density in urban environments,” said Eran Chen, Founder of ODA. “Our design dedicates a quarter of the ground floor to outdoor public use and an additional 100,000 sf for street-level programs that will enhance the community experience.”

The proposal has changed since it was first presented in July 2020; The builders reduced the heights of three buildings and undertook to build a sports and recreation center.

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Both the local council and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards opposed the project citing the need for lower affordability, but the CPC approved the project by a vote of 10 to 3. Chairman Dan Garodnick said the project was “the largest privately funded affordable housing project in Queens in generations.”

“At a time when our housing crisis is more acute than ever, that’s a big deal. And a great opportunity to relieve rent in this and surrounding communities,” Garodnick said during Wednesday’s meeting.

Innovation QNS will now turn to the city council for a final vote, where Won is likely to decide the fate of the project. In a statement released after the CPC vote, Won said the agency chose to “stamp” the project without “significant commitment to deep affordability.”

“Continuing to ignore the voice of the community, the developers have chosen to move forward on a project that received widespread backlash in city halls this spring and the overwhelming disapproval of the Queens Community Board 1,” Won said in a expression. “I’ve asked for the development team to come back to the community with changes, and we won’t settle for a plan that’s less than 50 percent affordable.”

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Under the current plan, 25 percent of the homes are affordable, and market units would start at $2,400 for a studio.

“My concerns about this project remain and I have serious concerns that this project will displace many immigrants and working-class residents who call this part of Astoria home as landowners worry about their profit margins,” Won added.


tags :
Urban Planning Commission, Innovation Qns, ODA Architecture, Silverstein Properties

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