Governor Kathy Hochul announced a round of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) buildings awards this month, two of which were given to Queens-based projects.
$13.5 million was awarded to 14 projects throughout New York State through the third round of the more than $48 million Buildings of Excellence Competition. These awards recognize the design, construction and operation of clean, resilient and low-carbon or carbon neutral multifamily buildings.
The Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ), located on 21 Street and 30th Road in Astoria, has received a NYSERDA Buildings Award of Excellence and a $1 million prize for its $225 million expansion project.
The project includes more than 200 units of affordable housing and an 110,000 square foot club expansion, which includes two swimming pools, a planetarium, a 1,000 seat multi purpose sports arena, a theatre, STEM Lab, Teaching Kitchen and education space.
“A non-profit and business incubator/lab and club operated retail space on 21st street is also part of the plan,” according to Costa Constantinides, CEO of VBGCQ.
MEGA Development Corp. is the developer partner while Ettinger Engineering Associates is the lead engineering firm on the project. ICL is the housing development partner.
According to Constantinides, the list of firms partnering with the Boys & Girls Club in the development project is growing.
“The investment in our children by the corporate community is impressive. These companies are investing in our capital project as well as funding programming for the 16,000 children we will serve each year for the next half-century,” he said.
GrubHub is investing $1.25 million for the Teaching Kitchen. Hydro- Quebec is investing $1.25 million for the Renewable Energy Learning Lab. Attentive One is investing $1.5 million for the Teen Academy and Equinor Beacon Wind Technology is investing $1.75 million to build as well as help operate and support the Media Center.
“It’s an extraordinary project that will revolutionize learning in Astoria and Long Island City,” continued Walter Sanchez, president of the Board of Directors at Variety.
NYSERDA pointed out that the awardees not only offer affordable housing but also are all-electric and carbon neutral at their core — with no use of fossil fuel combustion in daily use — making them highly efficient.
“We are also including solar energy with the caveat of having a hands-on educational component for the children we serve, to be able to learn about how our geo-thermal energy source works,” said Sanchez. Groundbreaking is planned for spring of 2024.
An award with a $1 million Grant was given to Flushing-based Magnolia Gardens. A first-of-its-kind for New York City, Magnolia Gardens plans to offer 90 modern apartments of transitional housing and offer Asian language services for families in the development, which is intended for families with at least one child under the age of 21.
Families will stay there for a year before moving to permanent affordable housing. Magnolia Gardens is at 133-04 39th Avenue in Flushing and is developed by Asian Americans for Equality and Urban Resource Institute. Groundbreaking was set for the fall of 2022, but has been postponed for environmental remediation and other requirements. The public will be notified of the groundbreaking when a date has been confirmed.
NYSERDA pointed out that the competition supports the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and ensure at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed toward disadvantaged communities.
The awards event took place at the AIA Building in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday, March 21. “We congratulate today’s winners” said NYSERDA CEO Doreen M. Harris at the event, “and are particularly proud of their commitment to advancing low-carbon building design that sets a new standard for climate-friendly construction and operation. These awardees join a group of thought- leaders that are paving the way to tackle one of the highest greenhouse gas emitting sectors in the state by demonstrating that building with a low carbon footprint is profitable and in-demand.”
Funding for this program is through the State Clean Energy Fund and is part of NYSERDA’s more than $165 million investment in new construction and gut rehab projects in the multi-family building sector.