George Douris Tower Opens
Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney (DQueens/ Manhattan), City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, District Attorney Richard Brown, Enterprise Community Partners, Citi, amongst others, joined HANAC, a nonprofit citywide service organization that provides comprehensive services to local immigrants and seniors, for the grand opening of the HANAC George T. Douris Tower, a new green, mixed-use building providing affordable housing for seniors and community space for services that support them in Astoria.
HANAC Astoria Senior Residence was developed under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), an $8.4 billion program to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014. Currently, the plan has funded new construction or preservation of more than 111,000 units of affordable housing throughout the five boroughs.
According to Maloney, “HANAC founder Douris was very passionate about helping the elderly. He knew first-hand the loneliness of the elderly. George’s mother had no place to go and socialize but she would sit by her window at home watching people pass by outside and looking and waiting for relatives and friends to come and visit and maybe take her out for a walk. But, there was the funeral home nearby and she would gather there with her friends and they would cry together and laugh and talk about their families, friends and their grandchildren. That was their senior center. George’s dream was to build affordable housing for seniors and in 1993 he was thrilled to see the HANAC Archbishop Iakovos Senior Center open.”
The George Douris Tower differs both inside and out from many senior residences. Rather than the seemingly institutional character of many nursing homes, the Tower is an elegant, healthy, bright and happy environment. Chairperson of the HANAC Board of Directors, Evangeline Douris carefully and creatively designed each room of the senior residence herself, clearly understanding the importance of making the residence feel comfortable in their golden years.
“A few years ago, I was thrilled to help present HANAC with a $400,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank to aid in the construction of the Douris Tower, and it’s wonderful that the building is now open and serving Queens’ seniors. George Douris was a true champion of our city’s most vulnerable residents. This building is a fitting tribute to his great work,” Maloney said.
Additional financial assistance came from the city Housing Development Corporation (HDC), which provided $21.7 million in tax-exempt bonds for the construction of the George T. Douris Tower and $3.5 million in permanent financing, as well as $10.12 million in subsidies under its Low-Income Affordable Marketplace Program (LAMP). Citi Community Capital provided a letter of credit to guarantee principal and interest payments on the bonds and serviced the majority of the construction funds. Enterprise Community Partners provided HANAC with $18.3 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, a pre-development loan of more than $433,000, and an Enterprise Green Communities grant of $40,000 to support the environmentally sustainable development. $2.2 million was given by the NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal’s (DHCR) Homes for Working Families Program (HWF) and allocated tax credits to the project. HPD issued $8 million in Reso A Funds, which were allocated to the project by Vallone Sr. when he was a councilmember. A capital grant, given by state Senator Michael Gianaris, former Assemblymember, also funded this project.
The building will house several social service coordinators onsite to assist residents in identifying and accessing medical and mental health services, social services, and other needs. The senior center is funded by the city Department for the Aging, health services are provided by Mount Sinai Queens, and Visiting Nurse Services and social service program development is made possible in partnership with the Queensboro Council for Social Welfare.
“I know everyone here today takes particular pride in knowing countless seniors will be able to access important services and programs ranging from housing to warm meals to social programs. What’s more, this spectacular new facility has been built green and environmentally sound,” Quinn said.
The HANAC George T. Douris Tower features 183 one-bedroom apartments for seniors earning up to 58 percent of area median income (currently $32,132 for a single person). The building also includes a senior center, integrating services and amenities such as exercise, meditation, arts and crafts, computer and conference rooms and a library that provide a supportive environment for seniors in the community. Built according to the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the only comprehensive green building framework for affordable housing, it is an Enterprise Green Communities-certified project.
The senior residence includes advanced green features throughout the building. The landscaping features climate sensitive trees and plants, specially designed to increase the building’s energy efficiency, reduce heat island effect, control storm water runoff and create green space for residents to enjoy, including a green roof. The building features water-conserving plumbing fixtures, Energy Star appliances, solar lighting, recycled content materials, low-VOC paints and adhesives, and a Green label carpet. Additionally, the Tower received NYSERDA certification for energy efficiency.
Vice President and Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners. Abby Jo Sigal played a significant role in helping HANAC with development funding and an approach for development known as Holistic Greening which involves constructing buildings that are both sustainable and affordable.
“As long as you think about building green at the design stage, it can be affordable,” Sigal said. “The HANAC George T. Douris Tower is a great investment, a green investment, a socially responsible investment—adding to the community fabric, it created jobs. Our mission is to move people up and out of poverty and into affordable, healthy housing,” Sigal said.
The HANAC George T. Douris Tower is a model for senior houses that offer services. This large project could not have been completed without all the help received from more than eight different sources.
“This grand opening is the culmination of a truly collaborative effort among the private and public sectors. HANAC is continuing a great tradition of serving the needs of our senior citizens while creating an exemplary brick and mortar example of how sustainable homes can also be affordable to those on a fixed-income,” President of HDC Marc Jahr said.