As the proposed $2 billion Innovation QNS mega project in Astoria moves closer to the city’s public review process, the development team made its latest presentation to Community Board 1 Wednesday and will host two town hall meetings on Wednesday, April 20 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
The proposal put forth by Silverstein Properties, BedRock and Kaufman Astoria Studios, would transform a five-block area centered on Steinway Street they say is dominated by surface parking lots, underutilized industrial and commercial buildings and vacant spaces.
The project would construct 12 new buildings with 2,845 mixed-income apartments, including some 725 permanently affordable and senior apartments. The development would also include 250,000 square feet of space for small businesses, startups, and nonprofits in the creative industries. The developers have framed the project as a solution to the neighborhood’s depressed economy with the creation of more than 5,400 good new jobs, including 3,700 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent jobs and $50 million in new annual spending at neighborhood businesses.
“After spending decades as part of this community, Kaufman Astoria Studios is doing everything possible to gain input from our longtime neighbors and ensure that the project reflects that input,” Kaufman Astoria Studios Vice President Tracy Capune said. “The additional Community Board briefings, community workshops and four years of outreach puts us in an exciting position to soon begin the public review process.”
And during that ULURP process, Councilwoman Julie Won will be key. Her vote on the project will likely be pivotal as City Council members traditionally follow the lead of the representative of the neighborhood where a development is proposed. While CB 1 members have pushed back against the scale of the project, especially two 26-floor towers they say are out of context with the neighborhood, Won sent a letter to the developers last month expressing her concern that there had not been enough community outreach to residents in the impacted area, many of whom are not fluent English language speakers.
The April 20 town hall meetings at the Museum of the Moving Image are open to the public with one session starting at 4 p.m. and the other at 5:30 p.m. Live translation will be available on request for speakers of Spanish, Greek, Mandarin, Bengali and ASL. The development team will also host two additional community workshops in the months of May and June.
“In our discussions with Council Member Won and other decision-makers, we’ve been asked to do everything possible to gain input from the community and ensure the project reflects that input,” Capune said. “The series of workshops we’ll be hosting are intended to supplement the established public review process known as ULURP that already provides for community input.”