QNS.com: Queens Community House completes $16 Million Forest Hills Community Center renovation project

QNS.com: Queens Community House completes $16 Million Forest Hills Community Center renovation project | May 2024: The completion of a $16 million renovation project at the Forest Hills Community Center, where Queens Community House first began its mission to cultivate neighborhood-based programs, brings a wider array of modern services to Queens neighborhoods.

Queens Community House (QCH) celebrated the end of its years-long project last week at the steps of its Forest Hills site, located at 108-25 62nd Dr., with representatives from the offices of Governor Kathy Hochul, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and several other local elected officials in support of the neighborhood-wide organization.

The renovations made to the Forest Hills 19,000-square-foot facility, with its 7,000-square-foot annex in mind, include the addition of a new roof, an elevator, an updated HVAC system and a modernized kitchen and plumbing.

Upgrades to the facility are also expected to allow for more programs, including a teen center, free English classes, immigration services, home-delivered meals for seniors, afterschool and summer programs for children, youth workforce initiatives, tenant assistance and homelessness prevention services.

Queens Community House Executive Director Ben Thomases explained the new additions coming from the renovation work and highlighted its importance in the community looking forward.

“The expansion of these offerings will have a profound impact on the community by promoting economic opportunity, strengthening social connections and enhancing overall well-being,” Thomases said.

Michael Stellman, President of the board of QCH, acknowledged the late Joe Hennessy at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for his advocacy and efforts in securing support for the program. Hennessy, who served as chairman of Community Board 6 for about 30 years, died due to complications from COVID-19.

“I am immensely proud of the way the staff, the board of the Queens Community House, has stepped up to the challenges to achieve this milestone for the organization,” said Stellman.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight, representing the State’s leading economic development agency, also shared in highlighting the importance of the community center.

“The completion of the Forest Hills Community Center renovation exemplifies the significant impact of strategic investments in our communities,” Knight said.

QCH confirmed that over $5 million was obtained for the renovation project through Empire State Development and New York State grants administered by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

In addition to the project’s lead donors, the legislators behind QCH renovations were also involved. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, whose office allocated $2 million to the project, stressed QCH’s historical significance to community centers in the city.

“During a time where we keep talking about poverty and the criminalization of poverty, you can’t criminalize your way out of poverty. We must invest in our young people and invest in spaces like this,” Richards said.

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, and Councilwoman Lynn Schulman also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony as supporting Queens elected officials. Council Member James Gennaro, who also attended the event and remains a constant supporter of the center, represents the neighborhood where the community center is located.

Queens Community House first opened its doors in 1976 and the renovation project marks the start of another long chapter in the community-based organization’s history.

Click here for the article.

Queens Community House
Support Queens Community House

Queens Community House provides individuals and families with the tools to enrich their lives and build healthy, inclusive communities.