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Homes and Community Renewal

HCR and Partners Create Green Paradise in Queens

Greg Watson (far right) director of HCR's NYC regional office, joins Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., HANAC Board of Directors Chairwoman Evangeline Douris,
Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the George T. Douris Tower,
a 15-floor, 183-bedroom affordable senior housing complex In Astoria, Queens.

State and City official gathered this week to celebrate the opening of George T. Douris Tower, a 15-floor, 183-bedroom affordable senior housing complex on Hoyt Ave. New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) worked with an impressive array of partners, and provided coordinated resources from the Low Income Tax Credit program and the Homes for Working Families program to support the development.

Brian E. Lawlor, Commissioner/CEO of HCR said, "The HANAC George T. Douris Tower illustrates the importance of mixed-use affordable housing and the difference it makes in people's lives. The integrated housing and community renewal agencies of HCR worked together to provide $2.2 million from the Homes for Working Families Program and sufficient Low Income Housing Tax Credits to leverage $18.9 million in private investment, which makes it possible for Astoria seniors to live comfortably, affordably, and independently in a place that enhances quality of life throughout the entire community."

Lawlor thanked and congratulated HCR's partners in the project, including HANAC, Inc.; Enterprise Community Partners, New York City Housing Development Corporation, and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. "The George T. Douris Tower will stand as a gleaming example of green, sustainable, affordable housing and a reminder of how the effective coordination of resources and strong partnerships can make a difference in neighborhoods across the state," he said.

A Green 'Paradise' Opens in Queens: Affordable Senior Housing Complex Built on Site of Parking Lot

By Irving DeJohn, NY Daily News

They unpaved a parking lot and put up paradise.

At least, that's what some local seniors will tell you about a new high-rise building in Astoria that was built to strict environmental standards on the spot of a former municipal parking lot.

Dozens of city and state officials were on hand Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the George T. Douris Tower, a 15-floor, 183-bedroom affordable senior housing complex on Hoyt Ave.

Conceived by the nonprofit group HANAC, the structure was built following strict "green communities" criteria, officials said. The eco-friendly features go beyond energy-efficient appliances and windows, said Abby Jo Sigal, vice president of Enterprise Communities, a national group that helped HANAC during construction. All the materials - from flooring to fixtures - are eco-friendly, Sigal said.

"It's a good investment, it's a green investment, it's socially responsible and it created a good number of jobs," she said. Evangeline Douris, HANAC founder George Douris' widow and chairwoman of the board of directors, said the housing is in line with her late husband's charitable legacy.

"This has been quite an experience, but the fruition is here, and we're so excited," Douris said.

To qualify for a unit, a senior must have an annual income of no more than $18,636 - 58% of the area's median income.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he remembered the initial controversy surrounding the project. There were inflammatory flyers from residents who were furious the development was taking the place of a municipal parking lot.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan) said between the two options, it was a no-brainer. "Before, what was here was an eyesore - now it's an oasis," said Maloney. "It looks like a high-end hotel."

The elderly residents were elated by their new apartments, which have a view of the Empire State Building, fitness centers, game rooms, and other health and wellness services.

"No way I'm leaving here," said Catherine Terranella, 61, who moved into the tower in December and lives on the eighth floor. "I love it."

Tessy Tsoutsouras, 87, said she was happy to have new friends.

"We all get together, we have our lunch together. It's a good way to spend your senior years," she said.

Irene Phillips, who lives on the 13th floor, garnered the loudest ovation during yesterday's ceremony when she said this was a much-needed facility for Astoria seniors.

"It's my little piece of paradise," she said.

Last Updated: 3/09/2011