Local 79 continues to play a central role in Build Up NYC (BUNYC), a coalition of over 200,000 union men and women that is committed to good jobs and responsible development. The latest focus of BUNYC’s efforts is the proposed Astoria Cove project, a 2.2 million square-foot project that includes three tall waterfront towers and two inland towers. The developer, Alma Realty, is seeking to rezone the property and Local 79 members have been there every step to ensure that the project is carried out responsibly: at a rally on May 28th; at a public hearing on June 10th; at the Community Board #1 hearing on June 17th (at which Community Board #1 recommended that the project not go forward as proposed); and at the hearing at the Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s offices on July 17th.
Many see the proposed project as a test for Mayor De Blasio’s administration to demonstrate its commitment to affordable housing and to ensure that Astoria continues to maintain its identity as a traditional working-class neighborhood. BUNYC is demanding that the rezoning language includes guarantees that the proposed project will be built union, that a larger percentage of the housing units in the project be affordable, and that good property service jobs for 32BJ will result from the finished project.
A large part of BUNYC and Local 79’s strategy is to promote responsible development in all parts of the New York City by organizing communities and workers at the start of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP). ULURP is a standardized procedure whereby applications affecting the land use of the city are publicly reviewed. The ULURP process begins at the affected Community Board level, and then moves on to the Borough President’s office, the City Planning Commission, the City Council, and the Mayor. The continued presence of Local 79 members and other union and community members at each step of ULURP is critical in ensuring that the voices of the working men and women of New York City are heard loud and clear by those who are making decisions regarding the future of the City.