In a major victory for working men and women throughout New York City, a deal was reached for the proposed Astoria Cove project that ensures that union workers will build, maintain and service the project and that 27% of the residential units will be affordable housing, with some monthly rents as low as $800. The area, which is nearly a mile from the nearest subway stop, will also receive ferry service. The project was granted approval by the City Council’s Land Use Committee on Wednesday, November 12, and approval by the full City Council is expected by the end of the month.
The difficult path to victory at Astoria Cove was paved by members of Local 79, Build Up New York City, and local community groups who began organizing months ago in the community of Astoria. The developer, Alma Realty, initially planned to build the over 2.2 million square foot mixed-use development with non-union labor and to set aside 20% of the residential units at below-market rates. However, the developer’s idea of 20% “affordable housing” was going to result in one-bedroom apartments with estimated rents that could rise to $2,700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The grassroots effort to fight against the initial plans for the development took many forms: outreach to affected community members; a large-scale presence at community meetings, Community Board meetings and hearings, and at hearings held by the Queens borough president; and unrelenting pressure on politicians. In the end, the developer understood that this project would not go forward until it met the demands of unions and community groups.
“I am incredibly grateful to Local 79 members, especially the hundreds who live in Astoria, who have been involved in this struggle from the beginning,” said Local 79 Business Manager Mike Prohaska. “This victory shows that Local 79’s strategy of keeping its ear on the ground and organizing at the community level will ensure that future development in this City brings with it good, middle-class jobs and affordable places for people to live.”