Students Re-Imagine Astoria’s Public Housing

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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is facing millions of costs stemming from Superstorm Sandy damage and the ongoing maintenance of its massive portfolio of over 4,000 tenants. So, the authority is seeking to utilize one of its most precious assets: space.

NYCHA plans to lease land to private developers who would build new units, split between 80% market-rate and 20% affordable housing. Although the first wave is exclusively in Manhattan, students at the University of Michigan looked into potential revitalization of another housing project in Astoria as part of their studies. They were asked by Roy Strickland, a professor of architecture at the school, to tackle both design issues and generate revenue. In The Atlantic Cities, Strickland shared the above rendering, which adds new public space with bikeways and trees.

Students recommended that new Astoria development take advantage of the rise of the arts and technology industries by adding new office spaces and schools. They also propose a move that’s proven controversial throughout New York: zoning for higher density, but only if developers paid for services and amenities.

NYCHA hasn’t announced any plans in Queens yet, but affordable housing is at the forefront of the proposed Willets Point Development, which calls for 875 of 2,500 new housing units to be affordable units. The plan is from the Related Companies (developer of Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards) and Sterling Equities (owned the Wilpons, who also own the Mets). From both Willets Point and NYCHA, it’s clear that New York is depending on private resources to spearhead the next wave of affordable housing.

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