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Queens Chronicle

Astoria affordable senior housing opens

Former Presbyterian church now green, state-of-the-art residence

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Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 10:30 am

After a few bumps along the road, the Hellenic-American Neighborhood Action Committee with the Presbyterian Church of Astoria along with dozens of supporters gathered on Friday to celebrate the grand opening of HANAC-PCA Senior Residence at 31-34 35 St. in Astoria.

“HANAC-PCA Senior Residence is a critical example of how under utilized, faith-based sites can be used to create new housing in a city where land is scarce and the need for affordable housing is great,” said John Kaiteris, the executive director and CEO of HANAC. “With HANAC-PCA Senior Residence, not only can the building’s 90 seniors age in place gracefully but also get the care, socialization and attention the deserve.”

The project, which cost an estimated $24 million, was built on the former site of the Presbyterian Church of Astoria which shut down some time ago.

The newly renovated space now offers 66 new units of green, affordable senior housing and offers supportive services.

So as not to forget the roots of the building, an archivist was hired to collect pieces from the actual church and mount them on the lobby walls for all to see.

The residence is a six story building with 56 one-bedroom apartments, nine studio apartments and a two-bedroom superintendent’s unit.

The apartments are targeted to low-income seniors ages 62 years or older with incomes at or below $29,050 for an individual — 50 percent of area median income.

In addition to living areas, the building also features community facility areas including a community room with full kitchen, social service offices, a vegetable garden and a bocce ball court, all designed to enhance opportunities for residents to interact with one another.

“Seniors living on fixed incomes can be hit especially hard by spiraling housing costs,” said Daryl Towns, the commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. “This project, combining affordable housing with support services, provides seniors with the means to be functionally independent for as long as possible.”

The total development cost was $23.7 million. Major contributors include Housing and Urban Development, Housing Preservation and Development which provided $10.6 and $2.1 million respectively. Borough President Helen Marshall gave $1.5 million in funding.

The facility is also environmentally friendly as HANAC and its green design partners were able to include a provision of a high efficiency heating system, installation of water-conserving fixtures, landscaped gardens featuring native trees and plants that minimize water usage and exclusive use of Energy Star label appliances.

Through these efforts, the HANAC-PCA Senior Residence will use 20 percent less energy to operate the building as compared to a nonenergy efficient counterpart.

“This day has truly been a long time coming,” Kaiteris said. “We struggled to get this facility to become a reality and it’s great to see that after all the hard work put in by everyone here, that we finally have a great facility for seniors that is affordable without skimping on the quality of the units and the amenities offered.”

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