February 15, By Hannah Wulkan
The Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria has outgrown its current building and is looking to expand its facilities, as well as put up a 14-story apartment building on its property to help fund its programming.
The club, located at 21-12 30th Road, plans to build a 5-story community center that will be about three times the size of the existing facility and add a mixed-use residential tower to the property as well, according to Executive Director Matthew Troy.
The new community center will provide the club with the ability to expand its programming. The organization plans to build the 14-story apartment building bordering the 21st Street side of the property.
The project is currently awaiting certification from the City Planning Commission for the residential tower and will likely break ground in the next year, Troy said.
Troy said that the funds generated from the apartment building will be used to help pay for the club’s amenities and programs. He added that the apartment building will have at least 30 percent affordable housing, and the first floor will have retail space, though the Club is still unsure what type of businesses will fill the space.
The Boys and Girls Club will own the building, Troy explained, but is still figuring out the details, such as whether it will be a rental tower and who will run the day-to-day management operations.
The Club opened its current facility in 1955, and after more than 60 years, has grown to serve about 1,200 members and their families. To keep up with demand, Troy said, the new community center will be about 100,000 square feet.
The club will go up behind the new apartment building, and though the two will likely share some entrances, they will only be loosely connected to one another, Troy said.
“We are considering how the new facility can serve as a bridge between our children’s’ passions and potential career or education opportunities. The space will be designed to accommodate programs that we hope will remain relevant for years into the future,” Troy said.
The new Club building is undergoing a community design process now with board members, staff and volunteers.
The construction phase is expected to take two to three years to complete, Troy said, though exact details are still being worked out, such as whether the club will expand on the existing building or completely demolish it and build an entirely new structure.
While undergoing construction, the club will keep its programming going.
Troy said that the club is looking to expand its presence in schools during the redevelopment, and is also looking in to leasing space to continue its most popular programming throughout the transition.
The club currently provides low-cost after school programming to more than 200 local children, and also offers swimming, fitness and skill classes, and summer camp programming to kids in the neighborhood.