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City Council OKs rezoning for Astoria

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The City Council unanimously passed a plan Tuesday to rezone sections of Astoria for the first time in 49 years that will include height limits for buildings as well as allow for new commercial development.

The project, which includes a mixture of downzoning for Astoria’s residential neighborhoods and upzoning for commercial districts is the first in the community since 1961. A total of 238 blocks in western Queens will be rezoned in the project.

“After years of hard work with the Department of City Planning and members of the community, I am very pleased with Astoria’s well-crafted rezoning plan, which addresses the needs of an evolving neighborhood and preserves its unique history,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said. “We have now created an opportunity for homeowners to improve and expand their properties in scale and context with the surrounding area while preventing the creation of out-of-character buildings.”

The project’s boundaries are 20th Avenue in the north, Steinway Street in the east, Broadway in the south and Vernon Boulevard, 8th and 14th streets and the East River in the west.

Currently, areas south of the Grand Central Parkway have high-rise buildings as tall as 20 stories, while portions of Vernon Boulevard and 21st Street have zones with no height limits for buildings.

The rezoning plan limits areas north of the parkway to three stories, while it only allows buildings along sections of Steinway Street as well as 23rd and 24th avenues to be four stories. Structures on parts of 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard will be allowed to be as high as seven stories.

The project will also create commercial zones in the community and encourage the creation of affordable housing, especially near 21st Street, Vernon Boulevard and Newtown Avenue.

“Astoria is a great example of a neighborhood that embraces and encourages so many cultures,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said. “Whether it’s walking down Ditmars Boulevard and sampling Greek food or strolling in Astoria Park, Astoria has blossomed into one of the most prized neighborhoods in the city. That’s why this rezoning is pivotal to not only preserve its character, but also to ensure that this neighborhood will continue to flourish with new businesses and economic development in the years to come.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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