Oct. 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The city has awarded $2.7 million to the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens for a new community center in Jackson Heights, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
“We’re providing $2.7 million for a new community center because it’s so important for our young people to have a place to go that’s safe where they can learn; where they can get afterschool help; where they can enjoy sports, culture, everything — [and] get them on the right track,” de Blasio said during a morning press conference.
Council Member Daniel Dromm said a community center has been long-needed in Jackson Heights and thanked the mayor for the funding.
“We need a place where we can gather and meet our neighbors and a place for our youth to go and have fun, … exercise and get involved in sports activities,” Dromm said at the mayor’s conference. “This allocation of $2.7 million to the creation of our new community center is really going to have an impact on the future of this community.”
The Variety Boys and Girls Club — which is now headed by former Council Member Costa Constantinides — is in the very early stages of planning for the new community center. The organization is currently looking for a place to build the center, Constantinides said.
“We are at the beginning of this journey to serve the families of Jackson Heights,” he said in a statement to the Queens Post. “We are actively speaking to various parties about space acquisition to build a club.”
One of the main purposes of the new center will be to provide free after-school care and programming for children in Jackson Heights and surrounding neighborhoods.
“Our goal is to build a community center that adheres to our values of providing free after-school programs and overall support for the community,” Constantinides, CEO of the organization, said. “We will hopefully have more information soon.”
He thanked de Blasio and Dromm, who is term-limited, for the funding.
“This funding will go a long way in bringing after-school programming, sports opportunities, and much more to kids and families,” he said. “This is a wonderful capstone to Dromm’s years of service and his steadfast commitment to Queens.”
The Variety Boys and Girls Club is also working on a new facility in Astoria. In June, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced that he had allocated $5 million in capital funding for the facility.
The $5 million will help the organization redevelop its existing property at 21-20 30th Rd. The redevelopment plan features a 14-story residential building and an adjoining 5-story clubhouse. The site was rezoned in 2018 to make way for the project.
The total cost of the project has not been disclosed.
The clubhouse will include Queens’ first planetarium, a 1,000-seat basketball arena, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a 200-seat black box theater. It will also have several art, music and dance studios; science labs; and dozens of fully-equipped educations rooms and tech spaces for STEM and robotics.
The Astoria redevelopment is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2026, Constantinides previously told the Queens Post.