By Jon Cronin, Editor
Alphapointe—a nonprofit that aids the education, advocacy and employment of legally blind people—announced on Tuesday the purchase of its new location in Richmond Hill.
The new location will cost the nonprofit a total of $21 million. The purchase of the building was $18 million, while the renovations will cost $3 million.
The lease for the Kansas-based nonprofit’s Brooklyn location will end in September 2018 and the group plans on opening its new offices at 87-46 123rd St. in Richmond Hill as early as December and move its workforce to the new site in stages. The company’s Brooklyn location employs 130 legally blind people—and when the new facilities are open, the nonprofit intends to employ more.
Alphapointe trains and educates legally blind people to manufacture uniforms for the military as well as build janitorial supplies and office products and work in the company’s plastics division.
Reinhard Mabry, the president and CEO of Alphapointe, said that the nonprofit recently merged with NYC Industries for the Blind to ensure that more than 200 people will continue to have jobs. However, Alphapointe needed to find a permanent home to accommodate its growth.
Mabry noted that the location in Brooklyn was no longer viable—according to the property’s landlord.
“We no longer fit as an ideal tenant,” he said at the nonprofit’s open house on Sept. 26.
Mabry said that the nonprofit is “ready to kick off the renovations,” which are expected to last between 12 and 18 months.
He noted that Alphapointe couldn’t have made the transition without its board of trustees, which had faith in the nonprofit’s mission, and Build NYC, which helped the group finance the new building. Mabry said that Alphapointe is also kicking off a capital fundraising campaign for the final $3 million to finish the renovation.
Guy Latornico, a legally blind employee of Alphapointe, said at the open house that he would not be able to function without the skills that the nonprofit has provided to him.
“They do a great service to our community,” he said.
Latornico said that he had been working for Staples when he began to lose his vision. After being out of work for some time, he heard an advertisement for Alphapointe on the radio and applied for an available sewing position.
“I did not have any experience in sewing but they trained me,” he said.
Latornico added that he later applied for a position as a quality assurance specialist—and got the job.
“Alphapointe is not a regular job. They give us training and give us all a sense of purpose,” he added.
Alphapointe’s new space in Queens will house the company’s manufacturing facility that specializes in janitorial and office supplies for businesses, government and the military as well as a sewing department, inbound call center and warehouse. The facility will employ a total of 200 employees. The site will be outfitted with state-of-the-art accommodations for navigation, information gathering and accessibility and will include a sensory garden, in which employees and guests can take breaks.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.