DEPARTMENTS OF CITY PLANNING AND HOUSING PRESERVATION & DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCE FIRST QUEENS INCLUSIONARY HOUSING PROGRAM
TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN CITY’S MASPETH-WOODSIDE REZONING
May 24, 2006 - City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan today announced the first inclusionary housing program in Queens to enhance the 130-block Maspeth-Woodside rezoning proposal currently in the public review process. The rezoning, which was approved today by the City Planning Commission (CPC), would preserve the character of roughly 110 blocks of Maspeth and Woodside neighborhoods and create opportunities for additional housing on portions of Queens Boulevard in Woodside. The zoning text change would apply an inclusionary housing provision to the R7X zoning on Queens Boulevard in order to ensure affordability of housing in this community. Councilmember Eric Gioia, who represents the district, had strongly urged the addition of a zoning-based affordability measure and consulted with the administration on the inclusionary zoning program.
If property owners apply to use the provisions of the proposed R7X inclusionary housing program, they would be eligible to build up to five times the area of their lot, or 5 FAR, in exchange for creating or preserving 20 percent of the residential floor area they develop as permanently affordable housing for the community. Five FAR is the maximum allowed under the R7X zone proposed to be mapped along two stretches of Queens Boulevard, and a 125-foot building height limit would also be mandated, where under the prior zoning there was no uniform height limit. Developments not participating in the inclusionary program in the newly mapped areas would be limited to an FAR of 3.75. The Queens Boulevard sites would also have a commercial overlay which will allow up to two stories of neighborhood retail use on the lower floors.
“The Maspeth-Woodside communities have spoken on the need to preserve the character of their lower density areas as well as the need for affordable housing. Utilizing the zoning and financing tools that have been developed by the City, we are able to address both of these needs and we are delighted to respond to the testimony we heard at our hearing on the Maspeth-Woodside rezoning,” said Director Burden. “We are grateful for the partnership of HPD and of Council Member Eric Gioia, who has been a steadfast advocate for affordability.”
This affordable housing text change responds to requests by several speakers at a City Planning hearing last month on the rezoning. The text change application now enters the public review process with the anticipation that it will be considered at the City Council shortly after consideration of the 130-block Maspeth-Woodside rezoning. The expansion to Queens of the inclusionary program is consistent with the Mayor’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units by 2013. This is the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history and will provide affordable homes for 500,000 New Yorkers. The Plan includes incentives for fostering homeownership such as down payment assistance.
HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan said, “As our City grows and continues to attract people from around the world, it is a challenge for working New Yorkers to find quality, affordable housing. The Maspeth-Woodside rezoning and inclusionary housing program will strike a careful balance between providing affordable homes for our growing population and making sure that our neighborhoods retain their individual character. Inclusionary zoning harnesses the power of New York City’s strong real estate market by allowing developers to build bigger, but only in return for creating affordable housing. That’s a winning solution for everyone.”
Councilmember Eric Gioia said, “By creating more affordable housing opportunities, we’re building a neighborhood where moderate and middle income families cannot only survive, but thrive. It is essential that we stay true to our City’s core values so that families can continue to make New York their home, just as my family did in Woodside 100 years ago. I thank City Planning and HPD for their leadership and dedication. Without their hard work and commitment to our neighborhood, this initiative could never have happened.”
The affordable housing provision would apply along portions of Queens Boulevard which can accommodate modest growth as it is a wider street served by several buses and the #7 subway. The zoning change is projected to create the capacity for 301 more units than presently allowed. The inclusionary zoning, together with HPD financing programs, will result in 20 percent of those units being permanently affordable for low-income households whose incomes do not exceed 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). The proposed inclusionary zoning would apply in the R7X District being mapped along several portions of Queens Boulevard, including the north sides of the boulevard between 50th Street and 57th Street and between 64th Street and 73rd Street, and on the south side of the boulevard between 61st Street and 73rd Street. The R7X zoning designation replaces commercial and light manufacturing districts that resulted in largely automotive uses.
Under the affordable housing program, a developer may opt to set aside a portion of the units within the building at below-market rates, or provide new or rehabilitated affordable units off-site in exchange for an increase in the maximum floor area. The off-site units could be located within Community District 2, or within a one-half mile radius of the bonused development.
The Maspeth-Woodside rezoning area is generally bounded by Roosevelt Avenue and Woodside Avenue on the north, the LIRR rail cut and 74th Street on the east, the Queens-Midtown Expressway on the south, and 50th Street, 58th Street, Tyler Avenue and Maurice Avenue on the west.
The inclusionary zoning text will be reviewed by Queens Community Board 5 and the Queens Borough President. The City Planning Commission will hold its hearing on the inclusionary text application on June 21st, after which it is expected to go to the City Council for the final step in the review process.
For more information on the Maspeth-Woodside rezoning and on the land use review process, see the DCP website at www.nyc.gov/planning.
Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning is responsible for the City’s physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review; preparation of plans and policies; and provision of technical assistance and planning information to government agencies, public officials, and community boards.
Department of Housing Preservation and Development
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation’s largest municipal housing development agency and is implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. HPD also encourages the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.