Issues: Community Development

Locals Worried About Affordable Housing Promise In Willets Point

As reported by NY1:

Willets Point has had a development plan in the works since 2008, but after a recent revision, some are worried the city won't keep its promise regarding affordable housing.

To view video, click here. 

June 4, 2013
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Peralta to Mayor: Keep Affordable Housing Promise

State Senator Jose Peralta was joined by the Queens Housing Coalition and Make the Road New York today in calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball” that has laid waste to more than 1,000 units of affordable housing slated to be built in Willets Point and threatens the construction of all of the 1,920 affordable units that were supposed to be built.

The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the City Council in 2008 included the construction of 1,920 units of affordable housing.  Construction was to begin at the outset of the development process, or after the initial remediation.  Under a revised plan, construction of 875 affordable units will not begin until at least 2025, if at all.

“If they put a wrecking ball to 2,000 units of affordable housing to make room for a shopping mall, it would be front-page news and there would be no end to the outrage,” Sen. Peralta said.  “That’s exactly what’s happening here.  It’s just as outrageous.  It’s just as unacceptable.

“Mr. Mayor, stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball.  Let’s hold everyone to their word and provide the affordable housing this community so desperately needs.  That way, in a few years, instead of a New York City mayor coming into this community to complain about a census undercount, the visit will be to tout this area as a model of mixed-use development where everyone has a dignified place to live.”

Former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. said: “Middle-class and working-class families in Queens and around the City need more affordable housing. I’m concerned about plans to scale back the development of affordable units in Willets Point and urge Mayor Bloomberg to recommit to building quality, affordable housing in every borough.  As Mayor, I will work to expand middle-income and low-income housing so we can end the middle-class squeeze and allow more New Yorkers to remain in the City they love.”

Assemblyman Francisco Moya said: "Developers have an obligation to address the needs and concerns of the local community.  All too often we have seen in working class neighborhoods and communities of color that promises are not kept.  The community surrounding Willets Point needs to be guaranteed by the developers and city officials that the one element of this project that will benefit residents the most will be fulfilled: the construction of affordable housing units.  The proposed delays and reduced number of units is not acceptable.  I look forward to working with the City Council, local community boards, and the Queens Development Group to make sure that our voices are heard, promises are kept, and that we will not have our communities needs pushed to the side."

Council Member Julissa Ferreras said: “Affordable housing is a necessity for Willets Point and has always remained my priority.  Since day one, I have worked to negotiate with the Administration to secure a fair plan that will ensure 35 percent of the new apartment units being built are affordable housing units. I am appreciative of the support that I have received from my colleague in local government, Senator Peralta, to bring affordable housing to Willets Point now.”

Council Member Daniel Dromm said: “It is unconscionable that the Administration is spending substantial resources on enticing a major league soccer stadium to the area but refuses to reaffirm a commitment to ensuring that affordable housing will be included in any future development at Willet's Point.  New Yorkers who work hard and live in the area should be prioritized over special interests who will give little back to the community.”

Ivan Contreras, Coordinator of Queens Housing Coalition, said: "According to the official contract between the City and the Joint Venture neither party are legally obligated to build the ramps which are needed to develop the housing part.  This means that they can walk away from the project leaving the community with a mall, a hotel, a retail center and a parking lot and not building a unit of housing. I don't think this is what the community wants and needs.  New York is in a housing crisis we need affordable housing and we need it now"  

Leandra Requena, Queens resident and member of Make the Road New York, said: "Members of the community fought hard for affordable housing to be included in the original Willets Point agreement.  Now the developers are backing away from this commitment.  After a history of broken promises, the City should not allow this developer to build a mall at Willets Point, especially when this community does not need yet another mall."

As the plan stands now, there may be no affordable housing ever constructed as part of the Willets Point development.  That's because housing construction may not begin until the city builds additional exit ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway.

The problem is that the city appears to have no intention of completing such construction before 2024, delaying the building of affordable housing until at least 2025.  Moreover, if the ramp construction is not completed by December 1, 2025, the developer, the Queens Development Group, is under no obligation to build any affordable housing whatsoever.  And, ultimately, it could be the Queens Development Group deciding when the ramps are built, should the developer undertake the job.

But even if the ramps are built in a timely manner, the developer may buy its way out of its affordable housing obligation.

“These conditions put the construction of any affordable housing units in serious doubt,” Sen. Peralta wrote in a letter last week to Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Christine Quinn and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.  “My community and other communities affected by the Willets Redevelopment simply can’t afford to wait or rely on conditional promises.  We need answers and we need results.”

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May 31, 2013
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Senator Valesky’s Expanded Pride of New York Legislation Passes Senate Bill Will Encourage Restaurants to Use Local Foods

ALBANY, N.Y.—Legislation creating a program to recognize restaurants featuring local products promoting New York-grown products sponsored by Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) passed the Senate today.

May 30, 2013
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Kennedy, Ryan Welcome New Homeowner to Recently Renovated 19th Street Home; Announce Major Housing Grant for Buffalo’s West Side

Lawmakers announce $175,000 in state funds from NYS Affordable Housing Corporation to help rehab five more homes for ownership opportunities in 19th Street neighborhood. 

New homeowner Gary Damon Jr. accepts the keys to his 19th Street home, which Homefront Inc. recently rehabilitated, in a ceremonial key presentation. 

Kennedy: Homeownership has always been at the heart of the American Dream, and this state funding will help local families live the American Dream right here on Buffalo’s West Side.

May 16, 2013
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University of Rochester Breaks Ground on College Town

Earlier today, I had the privilege to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Rochester's College Town. College Town will be located on the corner of Mt. Hope and Elmwood, and will offer 500,000 square feet for retail, a hotel, a parking garage with 1,500 spaces, restaurants, and housing on a 14-acre development. The project received a $4 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

May 2, 2013
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Senator Kennedy Passes Key Bill to Boost Service Collaborative of WNY; Will Save Local Non-Profit $20,000

Kennedy’s bill will result in estimated $20,000 cost savings for The Service Collaborative, allowing them to invest more in neighborhoods, local non-profits. 

Legislation now needs Assembly approval and Governor’s signature. 

Kennedy: The Service Collaborative is Committed to Improving Quality of Life in Buffalo and WNY, and This Will Help Them Reduce Overhead Costs and Invest More in Our Community.

April 29, 2013
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Senator Serrano Writes Letter to the U.S. Postal Service Urging them not to Relocate the Tito Puente Post Office branch in East Harlem

Senator Serrano wrote a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging them to keep the Tito Puente Post Office branch open at its current location in East Harlem. The USPS has proposed the downsizing and relocation of this branch. This branch is the only Post Office located in the upper section of East Harlem, and it's relocation would burden countless residents who will not be able to utilize their services. Click link below to read full letter.

April 18, 2013
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Carriage Factory Renovation Ground Breaking

Earlier this afternoon, I had the privilege to join in the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the renovation of the Carriage Factory Apartments. These are located on Litchfield Street in Rochester. The building, which was built in 1910 and has been vacant for the past 25 years, was once home to Cunningham Carriage Factory. Once renovations are complete, it will include 71 units of affordable rental housing to accommodate people with special needs through DePaul Community Services Inc. For more information on DePaul, visit http://www.depaul.org/.

March 28, 2013
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Legislative Update

I spoke with Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. Homeownership Director, Lisa Maldonado for this week's Legislative Update.

March 22, 2013
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Senator Kennedy Pushes for Historic Designation, Rehabilitation Tax Credits for Buffalo’s Old First Ward

 Kennedy announces the beginnings of commission to pursue historic designation – and the rehabilitation tax credits that come with it – for the Old First Ward.

Community leaders join Kennedy to encourage residents, local preservationists to participate in the effort. 

Kennedy: Buffalo’s First Ward is a relic to the hard work, sweat and endurance that our region is known for. It’s going to take similar determination to secure historic designation, but this extensive process begins today as we start forming our ‘green-ribbon commission’. 

March 15, 2013
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Department of Financial Services to Speek Resolution of Insurance Claims in Areas Affected by SANDY

The NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS) is setting new rules to speed the processing of insurance claims in areas affected by Storm Sandy. The new regulation reduces the amount of time an insurer can delay its decision on a claim, and requires insurers to report to the Department on how many claims it is delaying and the reasons for the delays.

February 27, 2013
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Release: STATE SENATOR TOBY STAVISKY, CONGRESSWOMAN GRACE MENG, AND ASSEMBLYMAN MICHAEL SIMANOWITZ INSTALL FRIENDS OF THE POMONOK LIBRARY BOARD

Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz

 swear-in the officers of the Friends of Pomonok Library

February 20, 2013
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SENATOR DAVID VALESKY NAMED CHAIRMAN OF SENATE COMMERCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE

ALBANY, N.Y.—State Senator David J. Valesky, Deputy Leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, was named Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee. 

January 25, 2013
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Governor Cuomo Outlines 2013-2014 Executive Budget to Maintain Fiscal Responsibility and Continue to Invest in Economic Growth

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the proposed 2013-14Executive Budget and Management Plan that builds on two years of balanced, fiscally responsible budgeting and invests in economic development, education reform, rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, provides support to local governments and school districts, and includes no new taxes or fees.

Highlights of the Executive Budget:

· Eliminates $1.3 billion budget gap with no new taxes or fees. The expected gap for 2013-14 was projected to be $17.4 billion prior to the last two responsible budgets.

· Holds spending increases below 2 percent for third consecutive year.

January 23, 2013
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Senator Martins Attends Northwest Civic Association of Hicksville Holiday Party

Senator Jack M. Martins attended the Northwest Civic Association of Hickville Holiday Party, where he took part in the installation of officers. Senart Martins cnogratulates Joel Berse (President), Mary Garone (1st Vice President), Jeff Negron (2nd Vice President), Terri Carson (Recording Secretary), Barbara Berse (Corresponding Secretary), Subodh Batra (Treasurer), Jo-ann Broska (Sergeant at Arms), Prabha Batra (Trustee), Joey Pizzo (Trustee) and Len Ober (Trustee) for all of their work in helping Hicksville to remain a wonderful community.

December 13, 2012
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Speaking at the Central Community Celebration Dinner

Senator Gianaris spoke at the Central Community Celebration Dinner, held by Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, a non profit local organization, aimed at preserving and enhancing the profile of Astoria as a desirable neighborhood to live and work in.

December 3, 2012
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Senator Gianaris attended the PS 70 Groundbreaking ceremony

The PS 70 project will benefit students since it will add classes to the existing school building, including art, music and gym classes. Students at PS70 will have what every student deserves, a school that offers them the potential to develop their body and minds.

October 26, 2012
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Erie Harbor Apartments and Townhomes Grand Opening

Earlier this afternoon, I had the privilege to speak at, and help cut the ribbon at, the grand opening ceremony for Erie Harbor Waterfront Apartments and Townhomes. Located on Mt. Hope Avenue, Erie Harbor is the newest urban living community unveiled by Conifer Realty. It has 131 appointed and designed apartments and townhomes, which include 28 unique floorplans. The development includes a community center which houses a fitness center. For more information on Erie Harbor, visit www.liveaterieharbor.com.

October 25, 2012
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Speaking at a Hunters Point town hall at MoMa PS1 on the two new schools, IS/HS 404 and PS 78/312, opening in our community

Senator Gianaris was one of the hosts of a town hall meeting in Hunters Point, where he discussed ,along with the parents, local electeds and the educational community, about the coming opening of the two new schools IS/HS 404 and PS 78/312  in the community.

October 18, 2012
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