The non-profit Catholic Charities has begun work on turning a former Astoria parking lot into an affordable housing development.
The new $62 million Bishop Valero Residence will provide 102 units of affordable apartments for low-income seniors and formerly homeless adults with supportive services in Astoria, Queens.
The project will be built on the former parking lot of the current Catholic Charities Catherine Sheridan Senior Housing, which is located directly across the street on 31st Road in the Astoria community of Queens.
“We are pleased to begin the construction of the Bishop Valero Residence,” said Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
“Affordable housing is one of the biggest crises facing New York City. As one of the largest faith-based developers of affordable housing in the country, we understand how true this statement is. This project will provide much needed housing to low-income seniors and supportive environment for formerly homeless, and allow the residents to live safely, comfortably and independently for as long as possible. There are thousands of individuals in need of affordable housing in New York City, and we cannot build fast enough.”
The development team consists of Dattner Architects; Monadnock Construction, Inc., General Contractor; KOW / ARMA Consultants, Owner’s Representative; Bright Power, Inc., Sustainability Consultant; and A. Larovere Consulting, Development Consultant.
The Bishop Valero Residence is financed with a $3.1 million annual allocation of nine percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which leverages $30.8 million in tax credit equity over 15 years. Bank of America will provide construction lending, Richman Housing Resources will syndicate tax credits, and Barings will provide permanent debt for the project over the next 30 years.
“More than ever, western Queens is in need of quality senior affordable housing,” said Costa Constantinides, Council Member, District 22. “We lead the City in seniors awaiting appropriate housing that matches their financial means. They deserve to remain in the neighborhoods where they built a family and retired with dignity. I was proud to work closely with Catholic Charities to ensure we got the maximum amount of affordability on this site that replaced an underutilized parking lot. Thank you to Catholic Charities for their partnership and leadership on the Bishop Valero Residence.”
Closing for the Bishop Valero Residence was initially scheduled in March 2020, but when the pandemic hit, the deal was thrown in flux.
Nixon Peabody LLP’s team that advised Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation was led by Joe Lynch and included attorneys Matthew Carrigg and Darren Miller. “Through creative thinking and perseverance with our client, working every angle with the city, we made it work. I’m extremely proud of this deal,” said Lynch.
Located at 23-11 31st Road in Astoria, Queens, the Catholic Charities Bishop Valero Residence will be a six-story, 84,900 s/f building with on-site supportive social services for residents featuring a 6,400 s/f, 200-seat capacity community senior center on the ground floor of the building provided and operated by Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, an affiliate agency of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
With 102 residential units and one superintendent’s unit, the building will be a 100 percent affordable residence for seniors with 30 percent of the building reserved for formerly homeless seniors with severe mental illness (SMI) through the New York City 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative sponsored by the Department of Homeless Services in the Human Resources Administration.
The remainder of the units reserved for low-income seniors will target those making up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). 100 percent of resident units are supported with rental operating subsidy through the HUD Section 8 Project-Based Voucher program, as administered by the New York City Housing Authority.
The programming for the Peter J. Dellamonica Senior Center, which Catholic Charities currently operates in the Astoria community will relocate to the Bishop Valero Residence, will include daily hot meals made on-site, educational forums, fitness classes, and senior case management and referral services. In sum, the Bishop Valero Residence will provide much needed affordable senior housing and services for NYC residents to live safely, comfortably, and independently in the vibrant community of Astoria.
In 2016, Catholic Charities joined a coalition with LiveOn NY that heavily advocated for changes to the New York City zoning resolution. Approved by the New York City Council, the changes, called Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), included allowing buildings with affordable or senior housing to be taller, eliminating parking requirements for affordable or affordable senior housing located near subway lines, and changing rules which affect the shape of new and enlarged buildings. This new ZQA regulation allows Catholic Charities to build crucial affordable housing units on underutilized parking lots within the existing Catholic Charities’ housing portfolio.
The Catholic Charities Catherine Sheridan Apartments was built in 1978 and currently has 240 apartments for low-income seniors.
Pictured top: Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, CEO, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Costa Constantinides, Council Member, District 22, Astoria, Queens, visit the future site of the new Catholic Charities Bishop Valero Residence,.