Dueling rallies in Queens over proposed housing development

Affordable housing advocates gathered in front of New York City Hall on Wednesday ahead of a public hearing by the city council committee on Zoning and Franchises to discuss Innovation QNS -- a proposed 5-block mixed-use development in Astoria, Queens.

The plan calls for the construction of 2,800 housing units, of which 1,100, or 40%, will be set aside as affordable housing. 

But opponents of the project say it's not enough.  

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One advocate told the crowd that "this is an affordable housing crisis and luxury development, market-rate apartments at this rate will only worsen the crisis."

Developers have been trying to get the project off the ground for more than 4 years. They say Innovation QNS will generate about $475 million in tax revenue for the city and create about 1700 jobs. Supporters of the project highlighted these aspects during their own rally also held on Wednesday morning.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, "These units are for, they're for people of color who have been systemically pushed out of communities like Astoria for years."

During the hearing, Councilmember Julie Won asked developers if the capital was in place to deliver the affordable housing units as promised.  

In response to Won's question, an Innovation QNS team member said that "we will wait to build them when the resources are there in a public-private partnership to do so."

The New York City Council is expected to vote in November. In the past, land/use decisions have gone in favor of the city council person that represents the area.  In this case, it is Julie Won, who is opposed to the project at the moment.