On the Market: Will Astoria Cove Erode One of the Last Bastions of Affordability?

Will Queens price out its middle class like Brooklyn has?

Will Queens price out its middle class like Brooklyn has?

The city plans to sell a parking lot in Flushing or $1, according to Crain’s, using the bargain basement price to lure a developer with a good affordable housing proposal. The site is near a transportation hub—a big bonus—but the mayor is also willing to throw in some additional air rights that would allow nearly double the amount of housing that the site currently allows. Not available for developing the lot: the city’s affordable housing subsidies. The site only costs $1, after all, and the owners can take advantage of a 421a abatement.

Affordable housing advocates, meanwhile, are not very impressed with how Astoria Cove, the first major project that the de Blasio administration has shaped from its early stages is working out. The Wall Street Journal reports that developer’s plans to make only 17 percent of the 1,700-units in the waterfront mega-development below market rate has sparked anger in the surrounding community. The developer has now agreed to build 20 percent affordable, not to segregate the units and to add them throughout construction, rather than all at the end. Unsurprisingly, community groups and affordable housing advocates are not very impressed.

Might the mayor be making progress on another front, by picking a new Department of Buildings commissioner after more than six months of the spot sitting open? Crain’s says so: rumor has it that Hunter College assistant vice president of facilities Rick Chandler will be the pick. More than four people have already passed on the position, Crain’s suggests one of the reasons is that it only pays $205,000 a year.

Briarwood, in Queens, would not seem to have a lot to recommend it, being at the center of a congested traffic hub, but as The New York Times explains, it’s a pretty nice place to live—diverse and middle class—if you can get over the traffic, traffic construction, and adding insult to injury, a subway station that has been moved across a busy street in the midst of construction.

Also, don’t plan on taking the train this weekend: service changes and reductions are expected on 13 lines. DNAInfo has a rundown.

A way happier rundown: Curbed tells you where you can see every baby animal in the city. The list includes golden lion tamarinds, pudu fawns and giraffes. It is awesome.

Williamsburg’s first Starbucks will open Monday morning, Gothamist reports. There are so many nails in Williamsburg’s coffin at this point that we’re surprised anyone is counting anymore. But we’re touched by the outrage and idealism of the youth. As one resident put it: “I was disappointed when I found out. I thought it was going to be like a cool, independent coffee shop. When I saw it I was like ‘fuck!’

As for land battles further afield, The New York Times has a story on a real humdinger: Hugh Clayton Lowther, the eighth Earl of Lonsdale, is selling a mountain that is part of his family’s estate for $3 million, throwing in his title for free. Climbers, clamberers and ramblers raised the money to buy Blencathra, as the mountain is called, but a mystery bidder bested them and now it’s a legal battle. Bonus: this story includes the craziest sentence we have ever read in The Times or maybe anywhere: “None of that has dimmed the abiding enthusiasm of those who pit muscle and sinew against slopes that rise from bracken-clad lower reaches to a precipitous upper ridge line that seems to have been scooped out of bare rock by a giant hand, giving the mountain an alternative name — Saddleback — and explaining the scholarly view that ‘Blencathra’ is derived from old Celtic words meaning a bald mountaintop in the shape of a chair.”