Prospects for Innovation QNS, the unimaginatively named but humanely conceived mixed-use complex planned in Astoria aren’t dead yet.
The development team of Silverstein Properties, Kaufman-Astoria Studios and Bedrock Real Estate need zoning changes to proceed with the $2 billion project. It would bring new apartments, stores, cafes, cultural facilities and a public park to five blocks of what’s now an under-utilized Astoria backwater.
Queens Brough President Donovan Richards rejected the plan last week, citing now all-too-common gripes that it would “drastically” change the neighborhood’s character, draw higher-income residents and thus drive out current residents.
Among other changes, Richards wants Innovation QNS to make 50% of 2,845 apartments “affordable” rather than 25% as the developers offered.
But Richards has no official say on the rezoning, which must be approved or rejected by the City Council.
Sources said that Council member Julie Won, who represents the district, has asked the developers to adopt Richards’ conditions.
But there might be room for compromise. Richards praised many of the plan’s other features, such as the open public space and community facilities. The developers previously scaled down several of 12 planned buildings among other changes in response to neighborhood objections.
Meanwhile, the City Planning Commission is likely to bless the plan in the coming weeks.
The person missing from the drama so far is Mayor Eric Adams, who has opposed “gentrification” in too many other worthy proposals that went down to defeat. Maybe this will be the one to change his mind.