The Department of City Planning proposes to amend the Zoning Map on all or portions of 238 blocks in Astoria, Community District 1, in Queens, to preserve the existing scale and character of the area while allowing for a modest increase in residential and commercial density in appropriate limited locations. A related action would also make the Inclusionary Housing Program applicable in certain zoning districts within the rezoning area to incentivize the development of affordable housing. The study area, which comprises 248 blocks, is bounded by 20th Avenue on the north, Steinway Street on the east, Broadway on the south, and Vernon Boulevard, 8th Street, 14th Street, and the East River on the west.
Astoria is a neighborhood in northwestern Queens that stretches along the East River roughly from 36th Avenue to 20th Avenue and as far east as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and La Guardia Airport. The neighborhood is developed with a wide variety of housing types. Blocks developed with two-and three-story row houses and semi-detached buildings are common in the area north of the Grand Central Parkway. Blocks with larger prewar apartment buildings are more common in the area to the south of the Grand Central Parkway. All building types can be found throughout the rezoning area.
Astoria is also known as a popular destination for shopping and nightlife. Vibrant commercial strips can be found on 31st and Steinway Streets, Ditmars and Astoria Boulevards, 30th Avenue, and Broadway.
The proposed actions would protect neighborhood character from out-of-scale development by mapping contextual zoning districts that more closely reflect the scale and form of existing buildings and set firm building height limits. On blocks fronting Vernon Boulevard, 21st Street, and 31st Street, moderate density increases are proposed along with incentives for the development of affordable housing through the Inclusionary Housing Program. Building height limits would ensure that the scale of new buildings generally remains consistent with the existing development patterns. New commercial zoning districts are also proposed to reflect existing commercial uses and provide opportunities for new commercial uses to serve area residents.
The proposal builds upon the success of three previously adopted contextual rezonings in the area, including the Broadway (2001), Steinway Street (1998), and West Astoria (1989) rezonings, each of which were more limited in scope. Over the past decade, as the pace of development increased throughout the neighborhood, concerns were raised by the community that new development was inconsistent with the prevailing scale, density and built character of many blocks.The proposal was developed in close consultation with the local council member and area stakeholders represented by the Community Board and various local neighborhood organizations.
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