The building will provide permanent affordable housing and light fabrication space for creatives in fields like photography and woodworking. On March 16, 2022, the 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 includes 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 company that handles auto parts and is moving 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, including 26 permanently affordable units. There will be 58 one-bedroom apartments (45 market price, 13 affordable), 38 two-bedroom apartments (28 market price, ten affordable) and eleven three-bedroom apartments (eight market price and three affordable). ). A previous proposal for the building called for 118 units in total, but the developer adjusted the number of units to allow for more family apartments than studios, of which there are none in the new proposal. Affordable housing is provided under Mandatory Inclusive Housing Option 1, which requires that 25% of units be offered at an average Regional Median Income (AMI) of 60%. For this project, nine units will be offered at 40% AMI, i.e. a rent of $823 for a T1, $981 for a T2 and $1,126 for a T3; eight units will be offered at 60% AMI at $1,271 one-bedroom, $1,518 one-bedroom and $1,746 three-bedroom; and nine units will be offered at 80% AMI at $1,719 one-bedroom, $2,055 two-bedroom and $2,367 three-bedroom.
The building will also contain retail, office and light manufacturing. Light manufacturing uses will be designed as a “manufacturing space” that will provide a workspace for small businesses and creatives who work in areas such as photography, videography and woodworking. While there are many manufacturing buildings around, most of these manufacturing spaces are for heavy manufacturing and cannot accommodate small studios for creatives. The building will also have residential leisure areas, cellar parking and bicycle storage for 58 bicycles. The developers are also working on installing Oonee secure curbside bike storage.
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 increase the permitted residential floor area ratio from 1.35 to 4.6 and allow for a manufacturing floor area ratio of 2.0.
The Queens Community Board 1 and the Queens Borough President issued favorable recommendations for the project.
During the public hearing, the commissioners asked some clarifying questions about the project. Several members of the public spoke in favor of the bid, noting the need for affordable housing in Astoria and the importance of space for creatives to work.
Planning will vote on the application at a later date.
By: Veronique Rose (Veronica is a CityLaw Fellow and a graduate of New York Law School, Class of 2018.)