Jan. 22, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A developer’s application to rezone a property near the 30th Avenue train station in order to build an 11-story, 104-unit apartment complex got the approval of Community Board 1 Tuesday night.
MEDREP Associates, a Long Island City-based company, filed an application to rezone 30-02 Newtown Ave. last year and now the plans are undergoing the public review process.
The board’s approval, by a vote of 19 to 11 with three abstentions, was the first step in the seven-month rezoning process–otherwise known as ULURP.
The application calls for a change to the property’s zoning from C4-4A to C4-4D, which represents an increase in the allowable buildable area.
MEDREP plans to build a 140,000 square foot mixed-use complex that would also include ground floor retail space and space for a community facility– such as a for non-profit organization or a medical center.
The 104-unit project would include 26 “affordable” housing units, in accordance with the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which requires the construction of affordable units upon a rezoning.
The board’s vote on the plan is advisory, and the rezoning application will now move on to the Queens Borough President, who will also issue an advisory opinion. The application will then be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, before the City Council votes on the plan. The City Council makes the ultimate decision.
The public as well as board members got to weigh in on the application Tuesday and the plans did have critics.
“With all of the empty apartments in Astoria, I don’t really see why we need an 11-story building around a bunch of smaller buildings,” said Astoria resident Jade Oliver.
Board member and City Council candidate Evie Hantzopoulos was also critical of the project, saying that it didn’t include enough affordable housing. She said that 26 units was not enough.
“For me, I want to see more housing built, but I want to see truly affordable housing,” she told the Queens Post after the meeting. She said that the ratio of affordable units to market rate units was too low. “It’s such an imbalance.”
The developer plans to offer the affordable housing units to households earning– on average — 60 percent of the Area Median Income, in accordance with MIH guidelines. Some apartments will be offered to households making 40 percent of the AMI, while others priced for those making 80 percent of the AMI.
Thirteen of the 26 units will be reserved for residents of Community Board 1.
Advocates for the project said that the development makes sense given its proximity to the subway and how it is located on a busy corridor.
The development site is currently occupied by three interconnected two-story commercial buildings, which will all be demolished.
The buildings are home to a tire repair shop, a warehouse and offices. The project site has frontage along 31st Street, Newtown Avenue and 30th Street.
Renderings of the proposed development show that the height of the project would be staggered, ranging from six to 11 stories. The tallest section of the building would be concentrated along 31st Street, with the scale declining toward 30th Street.
The area designated in the plans for a “community facility” was originally going to be tenanted by the Astoria Performing Arts Center. However, the center no longer needs the space and is operating out of 44-02 23rd St., which was home to the Secret Theatre.
The developer is now in talks with other nonprofits to take the space.