$2 Billion Mixed-Use Project Unveiled in Astoria

In the last week, a major plan was unveiled that revealed how a five-block expanse of the Astoria/Long Island City area would be transformed into a sprawling mixed-use development. 

A joint venture from development firms Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and Bedrock Real Estate Partners, the project is slated for a space (identified as a part of 35th Avenue that runs between 37th Street and Northern Boulevard) made up entirely of small factory spaces and parking lots. 

Dubbed mixed-use, which usually inspires a vision of high-rise buildings with residents above and retail below, the image this group of developers has presented to the public is essentially its own community, with 2.7 million square feet of space to build it. 

Its name: Innovation QNS. 

What Are the Details of the Full Innovation QNS Project?

The new district is presently zoned for manufacturing, so before any leg of the project starts, rezoning will have to be approved. One can speculate that the metro area’s continuing demand for housing and the ongoing trending toward mixed-use structures should mean there is little delay on this front. The developers cite a number of plans for the area:

  • 2.2 million square feet of the full 2.7 million will be devoted to residential space. 
  • Most new buildings will range between 10 and 26 stories. 
  • 2,700 apartments are to be built, with 700 reserved for low-income housing. This means that should COVID-19 or any similar issues lead to another shutdown, the project will likely remain essential and mean continuing work. 
  • Retail and office spaces are to be constructed, making up 192,000 square feet and 235,000 square feet respectively.
  • An 80,000 square foot grammar school will also be among many new features. 
  • A 90,000 square foot community center will take up a portion of the remaining square footage, and developers report that part of the leftover space will be available at below-market rent to non-profit organizations based in the community, startups, and artisans. 

The project as a whole has involved the local community in much of its planning stages and proposes that it will not force local residents out, and most small businesses will be relocating into the district. 

What Kinds of Jobs Will Innovation QNS Create? 

Innovation QNS is projected to create 5,400 new jobs, with 3,700 of them expected to be in construction alone. The other 1,700 are expected to be permanent jobs that will remain once the final bricks are laid and the new location is fully inhabited. 

The full scope of the plan covers 8.5 acres, to be converted into residential, retail and office spaces, and educational and community centers, plus all the surrounding infrastructure, and that’s all to be built after demolition. The initial groundbreaking is projected for 2023 and is expected to take at least ten years to finish. In the meantime, further planning and bidding are to be expected. 

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