The City Council unanimously approved a developer’s plan last month to rezone a section of 31st Street in Astoria—making way for three large buildings that will collectively bring 278 units along the strip.
The city council voted 47 for and zero against the rezoning plan—the final step in the public review process. The vote means the project can now officially move forward.
The rezoning clears the way for MDM Development, an Astoria-based real estate company, to construct three buildings on the east side of 31st Street between Astoria Boulevard and 24th Avenue. Two of the buildings will be 11 stories, the other 12 stories.
The plan calls for 278 apartments, 69 to be affordable, in accordance with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirements. The plan will also bring retail space and community facilities—such as senior and youth centers.
The buildings are slated to go up where the Neptune Diner, Staples and a nearby vacant lot are currently located. The popular diner and Staples will be bulldozed.
Without the upzoning, MDM would still have been able to develop the sites– with about 200 units permitted as of right, according to landuse attorney Frank St. Jacques. However, MDM would not have been required to build the 69 affordable housing units.
The rezoning got the approval of Council Member Tiffany Cabán, despite her saying at a candidate forum on Oct. 19 that the project didn’t have enough affordable units. “We are 67 of the 200-plus units being affordable. That is not good enough.”
Cabán also said that the units were not affordable enough. “It is not affordable housing,” she said. “We need ultra-affordable housing.”
The 69 affordable units, up from the initial 67, will be set aside for low-and-moderate income New Yorkers across a range of incomes, in accordance with Option 1 of the MIH requirements.
There will be 24 units available for households earning up to 40 percent of the Area Median Income — $42,960 for a family of three; 25 units set aside for those earning up to 60 percent AMI — $64,440 for a family of three; and 20 for those earning up to 80 percent AMI — $85,920.
Cabán’s spokesperson said that Costa Constantinides, the former councilmember, had already negotiated the deal prior to her taking office. Constantinides stepped down from office in April 2021 to take a position as the CEO for the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens.
Cabán’s spokesperson said that the council member was able to secure $250,000 from the developer prior to the vote to go toward upgrading Hoyt Playground, which is located across the street from the project site.
The council vote, however, was held just days after Cabán was sworn into office. The vote was held Dec. 9, while Caban was sworn into office a Dec. 1.
“The project was in its 11th hour when we came into office,” said a Cabán spokesperson. “It was slated for passage and the majority of the [council] body was going to vote for it.