Richards welcomes passage of Innovation QNS

Queens Borough Prez Donovan Richards
Queens Borough Prez Donovan Richards, second from right, at vigil for Haiti.
Office of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr.

Queens Borough President, Donovan Richards, Jr. has welcomed New York City Council Land Use Committee’s vote on Monday in favor of the Innovation QNS project.
“This day is not about votes, percentages or politics — it’s about Astoria families teetering on the brink of eviction. It’s about children doing their homework tonight in a homeless shelter and seniors being priced out of the only community they’ve ever lived in. That is who this day and this transformational project belongs to,” said Richards, whose father hails from Jamaica.
“With the passage of Innovation QNS, this borough has set a new standard for what community-first development can and must look like,” he said. “I fully believe Queens will lead our city out of this affordability crisis because, as we proved today, Queens will accept nothing less than historic investments in deeply affordable housing from any organization, private or public, that seeks to build here.
“With Innovation QNS, such a historic investment will manifest in the form of more than 1,400 permanently affordable homes — 45 percent of the project’s units — with 500 homes available at less than $1,000 a month,” Richards added.
He said additional benefits include comprehensive construction agreements with organized labor, discounted rents and incubator space for small businesses, a community advisory board and a study on the potential use of geothermal energy.
“The process of getting to a ‘yes’ on Innovation QNS was long, difficult and, at times, frustrating. But this victorious vote belongs to each and every person who helped get this project over the finish line, especially Council Member Julie Won, whose fierce advocacy on behalf of her constituents has helped ensure that Astoria families, first and foremost, will be the ones who benefit the most,” Richards said.
“I’m deeply grateful to Mayor Adams’ administration, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Zoning Subcommittee Chair Kevin Riley, Land Use Committee Chair Rafael Salamanca Jr. and the entire City Council, as well as organized labor for its advocacy and the Innovation QNS development team for their commitment to delivering a project worthy of the community and borough it will call home.”
Mayor Adams described the vote as “another critical win in the fight against our city’s affordable housing crisis.”
“This project will create nearly 3,200 new homes in Queens, including 1,400 that will be rent-restricted with 500 that will be deeply affordable,” the mayor said. “In a community with a lower vacancy rate than the rest of the city, creating this kind of affordable housing is a game-changer.
“In just the last week, the city has advanced plans for nearly 8,500 new homes across the city,” he added. “This is exactly the kind of historic work we must do to tackle the housing shortage at the root of our affordable housing crisis.
““But as this process shows, we need a better system to create new housing and make New York City a true ‘City of Yes,’” he continued. “My administration is moving forward plans for a citywide zoning text amendment that would help the city truly meet New Yorkers’ housing needs and create new housing across the entire city. We invite all New Yorkers to join us in crafting and advancing that plan.”
Adams thanked Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Land Use Committee Chair Rafael Salamanca and committee members, and Councilmember Julie Won for their partnership in “getting this project nearly to the finish line.
“I look forward to working with them to get it done,” he said.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said: “Affordability – in both the immediate and long term – are critical goals as our city grows and changes.
“The affordability commitments in this final version of the Innovation QNS proposal are a testament to and validation of the strategic, consistent push by residents, community leaders and elected officials for responsible development that meets both neighborhood and citywide needs,” said the son of Grenadian immigrants.
“The new level of income targeted affordable units proposed for Innovation QNS was hard fought, and now sets a minimum benchmark to consider moving forward, particularly for this type of development of private land,” he added. “As we work to meet the current housing and homelessness crisis, we must ensure that we do not exacerbate it by displacing and pricing people from their neighborhoods.
“Under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which my office has detailed the failures of and which I voted against as a Council Member, we have to do better than the best of the current bad options, and the work of the last several weeks has led to a better deal,” Williams continued.
“I want to congratulate Council Member Julie Won, and all who continued efforts to get here, for their leadership in helping ensure that Innovation QNS offered this level of affordable, income-targeted housing for a city in desperate need,” he said. “I hope that the full Council votes to approve the project.”

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