The project was bashed by many locals for not having enough affordable housing, as developers offered 345 affordable units in the 1,723-unit site. Katz rejected this 20 percent proposal, pointing to a recommendation from Community Board 1 (CB1) for 30 percent affordable housing units as a more reasonable option.
CB1 had already disapproved the proposal with a 44 to zero vote and no abstentions.
Even the proposed affordable units are still too expensive for the neighborhood, she wrote in her nine-page recommendation.
“The projected rents for the proposed affordable housing would still be higher than what current local Astoria residents, who will bear the brunt of the impacts of the proposed project, could afford to pay,” Katz wrote.
“The lack of affordable housing has a wide ranging impact as evidenced by the number of families and individuals forced into homelessness and the longer term effect of pricing long-time residents out of gentrifying neighborhoods,” she added.
Besides the issue of affordable housing, Katz brought up a number of other concerns regarding the proposed development, which would also include retail space, a supermarket and a 456-seat pre-K to fifth grade elementary school.
“In bringing hundreds of new residents into Astoria, the needs and concerns of the current existing residents, in particular the citywide shortage of much needed affordable housing, and the overall wellbeing of the borough and New York City must be addressed,” Katz wrote.
Those needs include traffic congestion and “overburdened” mass transit, both of which would be worsened with the influx of residents for the new complex.
Katz proposed that additional bus services and “alternatives such as ferries must be considered to relieve the already congested roadway network.”
The elementary school is also proposed to be built in the final phase of construction, but Katz recommended that it be built in the first phase of the project, in order to immediately meet the needs of School District 30.
The Astoria Cove application will now be reviewed and voted on by the City Planning Commission and then the City Council.
Councilmember Costa Constantinides said he shared the concerns of Katz and CB1 and also disapproved of the proposal as it is currently written.
“If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it,” Constantinides said. “This means providing ample affordable housing, good jobs both during and after the construction process and dramatically increasing public transportation options on and off of the peninsula.
“The Astoria Cove development done correctly has the opportunity to be a transformative moment for our neighborhood and we will ensure that it is only built to the highest standards,” he said.