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Year in Review: Queens’ top real estate stories from 2022

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Tenants rally alongside their elected officials to advocate for a package of bills that will ensure housing security in New York. (Photo courtesy of Housing Justice for All)

Queens has seen major real estate developments pop up throughout the borough in 2022, with even larger plans in the works. Take a look at the top real estate stories QNS followed this year:

Robert De Niro-backed Wildflower Studios gets final approval to start construction in Astoria

The city gives final approval for Wildflower Studios to begin building its film production complex in Astoria. (Photo courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group)

The city has given the green light to Wildflower Studios to begin construction of its massive, state-of-the-art, $600 million film production facility that will rise next to the Steinway Piano company along Luyster Creek in Astoria.

The Robert De Niro-helmed project received its final permit from the Department of Buildings on Jan. 25 and will start construction on the seven-story studio complex nearly two years after the group closed on a deal for the 5.25 acres for more than $71 million. When completed, Wildflower Studios will join Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silvercup Studios in the entertainment production sector in western Queens.

“Astoria and the borough of Queens as a whole have been titans of the television and film industry for decades, creating thousands of jobs and indirectly supporting countless families,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “We can’t wait to welcome Robert De Niro, another industry titan, and Wildflower Studios to the ‘World’s Borough’ with open arms. We look forward to seeing the fruits of the studio’s Queens-based vision on the big screen in the near future.”

Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said he was delighted to welcome Wildflower Productions, a valued member of the chamber, to Astoria.

“Western Queens has established itself as a premier location for film and television production,” Grech said. “The addition of Wildflower Productions will help create more good-paying jobs for Queens residents working in the industry, and catalyze economic activity that supports local small businesses. I look forward to seeing a generation of iconic films shot and produced in our own backyard.”

City Council votes to approve massive $2 billion Innovation QNS project in Astoria

The City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 22, voted to approve the Innovation QNS project in Astoria. (Rendering courtesy of Innovation QNS)

The developers behind the $2 billion Innovation QNS megaproject got the green light to remake a five-block area of southeast Astoria after the full City Council voted to approve the rezoning applications 46-1 on Nov. 22.

When the shovels hit the ground on the largest private, affordable housing project in Queens’ history, it will be a far different project than the one the developers drew up a half-decade ago.

To gain the support of Councilwoman Julie Won, the Innovation QNS team — Silverstein Properties, BedRock and Kaufman Astoria Studios — agreed to surrender office and community space to create an additional 299 affordable housing units.

Their “exhaustive negotiations” with Won, Speaker Adrienne Adams, and the mayor’s office yielded more than double the number of affordable units that were originally offered, as well as an unprecedented package of community benefits.

Queens elected officials rally with tenants, homeless New Yorkers to fight for safe, stable housing

Tenants rally alongside their elected officials to advocate for a package of bills that will ensure housing security in New York. (Photo courtesy of Housing Justice for All)

Dozens of elected officials rallied alongside tenants and people experiencing homelessness for the Our Homes, Our Power legislation, a set of five bills allowing all New Yorkers to afford housing and fight exploitative landlords.

Assembly members Zohran Mamdani and Jessica Gonzalez Rojas, as well as Assembly members-elect Steven Raga and Juan Ardila, protested outside Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in Manhattan to advocate for the legislative package alongside dozens of their colleagues.

The legislation covers eviction protections, housing access vouchers, establishing rent guidelines and social housing developments and protects tenants’ buildings from being sold without their input.

AG reaches agreement to protect tenants in two Ridgewood buildings from illegal lockouts

The Ridgewood Tenants Union turned to Attorney General Letitia James when tenants in two Onderdonk Avenue buildings faced unlawful lockouts. (QNS/File)

Following a complaint from the Ridgewood Tenants Union, Attorney General Letitia James stated on Dec. 13 that she had reached an agreement with a Great Neck-based real estate company to protect tenants from illegal lockouts in two residential buildings on Onderdonk Avenue.

In June, BlueSky Management NY LLC purchased the two adjoining properties in Ridgewood — one of which is rent-stabilized — and immediately sent lease termination notices to tenants. According to the AG’s office, the company followed the notices with letters, emails and text messages, illegally threatening to lock the remaining tenants out of their apartments.

As a result of the settlement, all tenants who received the threats will receive $1,000 in restitution, and additional apartments will be returned to rent stabilization.

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