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Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens awarded $3 million capital grant for new Astoria headquarters


The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens was awarded a $3 million capital grant from Empire State Development for its new facility in Astoria. QNS file photo

Apr. 29, 2024 By Bill Parry

Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens was awarded a $3 million capital from Empire State Development earlier this month to support the club’s redevelopment project in Astoria.

The new clubhouse will be approximately 125,000 square feet and include a state-of-the-art gymnasium, 175-seat theater, regulation swimming pool, classroom space for afterschool programming, including an industrial arts room, the Keystone Leadership Center, a teaching kitchen, a tech and media center, a greenhouse science lab and the first-ever planetarium in Queens.

“We are humbled to have been selected amongst a pool of worthy candidates to receive this grant, which will provide funding toward our redevelopment project that will more than triple the size of our existing building and includes not-for-profit incubator spaces intended to provide young entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and locals with private space to convene, exchange information and best practices, as well as create a supportive business community,” Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens CEO Costa Constantinides said.

Currently, Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is the largest youth development organization in Western Queens, serving more than 4,000 young people every year and providing them with a safe haven to learn, play and grow into future leaders.

An anchor since 1955, VBGCQ has evolved over time to meet the community’s changing needs while its founding mission remains unchanged: to make a difference in the lives of young people and enable all children to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible New Yorkers.

“The new Clubhouse here in Astoria will continue to provide services to local families who need us most,” Constantinides said.

VBGCQ was recommended for the grant by the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, recognizing the vital role of organizations like it in promoting economic growth, creating jobs and fostering a brighter future for young people by providing the tools, resources and support they need to succeed. 

“This funding will enhance the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens’ capacity to serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity,” said New York Regional Development Council Co-Chair Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, City University of New York Chancellor. “By empowering our youth with the resources and support they need to thrive, we are investing not only in their futures but also in the collective future of a stronger, more vibrant, and prosperous New York City.”

Hope Knight, president and CEO of Empire State Development, expressed strong support for the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, acknowledging its crucial role in nurturing future leaders. “This funding is not just an infrastructure investment, but a commitment to the community’s future, ensuring every child can reach their full potential,” she said.

VBGCQ CEO Costa Constantinides in front of the existing clubhouse in Astoria in 2022 announcing the new headquarters will be carbon neutral. QNS file photo

The new carbon-neutral development will include a 5-story clubhouse and a 12-story residential apartment building containing 229 affordable units. It will replace the old clubhouse at 21-20 30th Rd., which currently remains open to the community seven days a week.

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