BY TRONE DOWD
Southeast Queens’ latest development, a seven-story mixed-housing building located at 88-45 163rd St., broke ground last Friday with fanfare from elected officials and community leaders.
The building, which is scheduled to be completed in late 2018, will be operated by the nonprofit mental health agency Transitional Services for New York, Inc. (TSINY). Founded in 1975, the group provides residential and outpatient services to individuals over 18 and diagnosed with numerous forms of psychiatric illnesses. It provides services to nearly 4,000 people per year in the New York City and Nassau County areas, according to TSINY CEO Dr. Larry S. Grubler. Grubler says that of those people, about 600 of them are assisted with residential services.
“The concept of Transitional Services is to get people to a point in their life where they need less support and can become more independent,” Grubler told the Queens Tribune.
The new building in Jamaica will be the first development that TSINY is building from the ground up. The 28,500-square-foot site will feature 44 studio apartments, 33 units of which will be used for TSINY clients, and the remaining 11 which will be affordable housing units for low-income individuals or families who qualify.
The building will also feature a kitchen, a dining area, laundry facilities and meeting space for tenant use on the first floor, as well as “high ceilings and wide corridors to provide a welcoming environment and space for interaction between tenants and visitors,” according to a press release.
Meant to both commemorate TSINY’s 40th anniversary as well as “signify commitment and passion … to enrich the lives of those who endure the daily struggles of mental illness,” the development’s facade features brick and ruby-colored ceramic tiles that will “reflect the sun and moonlight to create a jewel in the neighborhood.”
“It is so exciting because without a home, it is very difficult to make progress in your life,” Grubler said. “This is just a drop in the bucket of the housing that is needed in the city of New York. If we can do it one person at a time, we can eventually get there. If we can provide additional housing stock and make it affordable, that’s fantastic.”
Elected officials came out in great numbers to support the groundbreaking and the work being done by TSINY. Among them was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who was in attendance for Friday’s groundbreaking.
Katz thanked TSINY for “not only all the work that they do” but for “providing homes and a place to be” and for helping those in need of assistance.
Both Council David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and State Sen. Leroy Comrie told the Queens Tribune that they were happy with the construction of the site.
“TSINY is a great group, helping its clients get integrated into the community, get affordable housing with a beautiful setting and beautiful new building,” Weprin said.
Comrie thanked the community boards for their approval of the plan to building this facility in Southeast Queens.
“As the Assemblyman said, anything that can improve the quality of life for people so they can transition properly is important,” Comrie said. “As you can see from what they’re planning to bring to the area, it’s going to be worthwhile. I’d like to live there to be honest.”
Though he was not in attendance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement about the new building.
“Safe, affordable housing should be accessible to everyone, especially our most vulnerable, and with the addition of this new development, we are building on our efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers have a place to call home,” Cuomo said.
“This project will provide men and women access to the services they need to lead a healthy, stable life, while supporting brighter, more sustainable communities in Queens for years to come.”
The project was funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health, which provided $10.3 million in interest-free construction financing and debt service, as well as a one-time Program Development Grant which put an additional $146,000 towards necessary equipment, furnishings and staffing costs. The governor’s office also stated that the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal will also support the project with $6.5 million in low-income housing tax credits.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123 firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly