Updated on June 21, 12:30 p.m.
Catholic Charities, the largest faith-based provider of affordable housing, has received blessings from Community Board 1 for its plans to build a seven-story affordable senior housing complex in Astoria.
The nonprofit has an 11-story, 240-unit affordable housing complex called the Catherine Sheridan Residence at 23-40 Astoria Blvd. and a parking lot at 23-11 31st Rd. Plans filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB) show that that the 92-unit building, the Catherine Sheridan Residence II, would be constructed on the parking lot site.
The developer is seeking a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to alter the floor area ratio, height and setback of the site to be able to build. Currently, the organization would only be able to build five stories and would not allow the rear yard to be turned into a senior center.
DOB plans show that there would be 74,454 square feet dedicated to residential units and 8,948 square feet for community facility space.
Representatives from Catholic Charities attended a Community Board 1 meeting on June 20 to outline their plan. The building would include 83 one-bedroom apartments and nine studio apartments. The community facility space would be used for a senior center and include a kitchen, offices and common space. The center would also be open to the public.
According to Catholic Charities representatives, only about 12 cars use the parking lot, and a lot at the new structure would include parking for 19 cars.
The organization has 21 affordable senior housing complexes in Brooklyn and Queens, which have 3,400 units. They have a waiting list of about 30,000 people and on average seniors wait 7 to 10 years to get in. Catholic Charities only gets about 100 vacancies a year.
The board voted to approve the plan but asked that residents living in Community Board 1 have priority when the organization chooses who will move in.
“We are a community that is aging in place,” O’Hara said. “Within our council district alone there are approximately 20,000 people waiting for affordable units. Seven-hundred-twenty-six seniors are wait listed for Catherine Sheridan 1. So we obviously have a need here.”
Representatives said they will fight to make sure there is a supervision in place to make units available for nearby residents and will speak to parishes nearby about potential residents.
Board members also expressed concern about the lack of parking for residents. The 51 space parking lot they want to build on was required by the city when Catholic Charities requested permits for Catherine Sheridan Residence 1.
“The area has a lot of new development,” O’Hara said. “There are some institutions with the same issues with visitors coming into the neighborhood requiring parking and they don’t provide parking or they provide minimal parking.”
She suggested that Catholic Charities “find a feasible way to increase the number of parking spaces.”
The Boards of Standards and Appeals will determine if the organization should receive a variance in order to build the complex.