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Innovation QNS modifies project after community input

Innovation QNS
QNS/File

Innovation QNS developers went back to the drawing board after a community meeting last week suggested that the $2 billion project could be “detrimental” to Astoria. 

The proposed modifications include height reductions along 35th Avenue, a new 30,000-square-foot recreation center and a recommitment to the local businesses in the surrounding area.

All of these changes were suggested by the Community Board 1 Land Use and Zoning Committee last week, May 25, during the first public meeting, which kicked off the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process. 

At this meeting, CB 1 member and co-chair of the Land Use and Zoning Committee Gerald Caliendo commented that while the board has historically supported new developments in Astoria, he opposed Innovation QNS. 

“When we see that a project is detrimental we will vote against it,” Caliendo said during the meeting. “The sub-committee generally agreed that the project is somewhat detrimental to the community.”

With the proposed modifications, Caliendo now supports the development and appreciates the efforts made on behalf of Innovation QNS developers to appease their requests. 

“I think the community needs development, within reason, and I don’t think that this is out of reason at this point,” Caliendo said. “I think there will be [a] great benefit for the community overall.”

Caliendo previously brought up concerns over retail space, suggesting that the proposed 10,000 square feet was excessive and out of place for the neighborhood. However, developers assured the Community Board that the strip would not become a large shopping center destination. 

Innovation QNS plans to include a grocery store on the ground floor and a potential relocation of P.C. Richard & Son. 

“That is really the purpose for this [10,000 square feet] to give us the opportunity to have a grocery store and the possibility of relocation,” said developer Jesse Masyr. “We do not intend to seek a large retail tenant and we will confirm that to you in writing.”

While developers will still request a waiver for 10,000 square feet of retail space, they promised to reinforce the developer’s commitment to small, local businesses by withdrawing requests to allow large shops.

“We’ve been discussing the plans for the redevelopment of these five blocks with the community for four years, and that discussion will continue throughout the formal review process,” said Tracy Capune, vice president of Kaufman Astoria Studios. “Innovation QNS is a significant investment and will be an economic boost to the area, particularly to the Steinway Street retail corridor. We look forward to continuing to refine this plan to deliver a project that meets the needs of all our neighbors.”

Innovation QNS — developed by Silverstein Properties, BedRock and Kaufman Astoria Studios — will bring 725 permanently affordable apartments, leaving 2,120 units set at market rate. 

The proposal would add a series of 12 buildings centered on five blocks around the intersection of Steinway Street and 35th Avenue, with the tallest building now standing at 24 stories.

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