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Developers and Labor Face Off at City Planning Commission Hearing

Labor and the city came together yesterday when the Astoria Cove development came up for public hearing at the NYC Department of City Council as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). For those unfamiliar with the proposed development, Astoria Cove is Alma Realty’s 30-years-in-the-making development, with plans to build five mixed-use buildings in Hallets Point for a total of approximately 1,700 apartments, along with a bevy of retail stores — and it hasn’t been finding many allies.

Last Thursday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz came out against the development, citing an insufficient affordable housing plan and a negative impact on transportation. Back in June, Queens Community Board 1 also voted against the proposal, indicating a lack of community support for what amounts to a pretty transformative project. CB1 placed a number of conditions on the development, including more affordable housing and a local hiring program for construction jobs.

Today, 22 Reade Street was teeming with people looking to speak out about the development — some in favor, though most resoundly against it. Impassioned speakers including representatives from New York Communities for Change, Walmart Free-NYC, Build Up NYC and more appeared before the Commission and presented a diverse yet clear set of demands: more affordable housing, a commitment to responsible retailers that will create good jobs and strengthen the lives of New Yorkers, safe jobs and local priority hiring, opportunities for local businesses, and more investment in transportation.

It remains to be seen how the City Planning Commission will rule. But given the strong voice demanding more for local communities, it seems clear that more needs to be done to make Astoria Cove into an instrument of positive community development — rather than yet another step toward squeezing New Yorkers out of their own city.

(Photo: NYC Department of City Planning)