Crowd rallies at City Hall to protest controversial $2B development plan

Darla Miles Image
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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A crowd of people rallied in front of New York's City Hall Wednesday morning to protest a $2 billion plan called "Innovation Queens." Darla Miles has the story.

LOWER MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- A crowd of people rallied in front of New York's City Hall Wednesday morning to protest a $2 billion plan called "Innovation Queens."

The plan is supported by city officials and aims to bring luxury developments to Astoria.

"We believe the people who work, should be the people who can afford to live in the neighborhood," a protestor said.

Families who live in Astoria attended the rally in favor of "Innovation Queens" and the labor unions are against the mixed-use development proposal.

"We are not fighting for Astoria, we're fighting for all working people in New York City," Nydia Velasquez of the U.S. Congress Dist. 7 said.

The outdoor rallies preceded a council subcommittee re-zoning hearing for a mixed-use development that would be built along these five blocks on 35th Avenue.

"Is labor in the house! Yeah! And who wants some affordable housing in Astoria," Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said.

The rally was surrounded by community members in the audience giving a thumbs down, the developers - outlined the project including affordable housing, which is at the core of the debate.

"The development team's commitment to set aside 40% of the housing in this project as affordable housing is simply unprecedented in this city," Jay Martin of the Bedrock Real Estate Partners said.

As it stands there will be roughly 2,800 apartments, 1,100 of which will be affordable, 500 deeply affordable, but some say that is still not enough.

"I strongly disagree with the idea that somehow the working class will benefit from the construction of unaffordable apartments," Julie Won of NYC City Council Dist. 26 said.

The fierce opposition is reminiscent of the successful fight to keep an Amazon hub out of neighboring Long Island City in 2018.

"Let's look at the facts, Western queens has only seen 475 units of affordable housing created since 2014," Richards said.

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