June 15, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has allocated $5 million toward a new facility in Astoria planned for the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens.
Richards announced the funding at the nonprofit’s “Junior Home Run Derby” event for kids in East Elmhurst Sunday.
The money will help the Boys and Girls Club redevelop its existing property at 21-20 30th Rd. The redevelopment plan features a 14-story building that includes a new clubhouse and about 250 apartments.
“The Borough President hit a grand slam yesterday at the Home Run Derby,” the nonprofit’s new CEO and former Council Member Costa Constantinides said. “He came through for the community and this is going to help us on our quest to see this redevelopment come to fruition.”
All the apartments in the building will be affordable, with 30 percent to be set aside for young people who age out of foster care, he added.
The development is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2026, according to Constantinides. The Variety Boys and Girls Club was able to get the site rezoned in 2018 permitting it to move forward with the project.
The clubhouse will include Queens’ first planetarium, a 1,000-seat basketball arena, Olympic-sized swimming pool and 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.
Most importantly the new facility will allow the Boys and Girls Club to serve substantially more children. The future facility will be able to serve an estimated 15,000 children — way up from the 4,000 the nonprofit is able to serve in its existing 65-year-old building.
The bigger space will also help the club reduce its waitlist. In 2019, more than 200 children were waitlisted due to capacity issues.
“This is going to be something that is going to change lives of young people especially here in Queens,” Constantinides said. “I really feel that it’s a unicorn; it’s something that — when you take all of these different elements together — it’s unlike anything else in the entire borough, the entire city.”
The $5 million will help the Variety Boys and Girls Club further its mission to enable more young people, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible adults.
“This $5 million allocation is about much more than the construction of a new physical space with state-of-the-art amenities,” Richards said in a statement. “It’s about investing in the health of our children and the future of our borough.”
Great to be with so many future sluggers at today’s Elmjack Little League and @VBGCQ home run derby!
We hit a home run with our announcement today: my office is allocating $5 million for a new and improved Variety Boys & Girls Club center. pic.twitter.com/CBXYT5Osrn
— Queens Borough President Donovan Richards (@QnsBPRichards) June 13, 2021