Empire State Development Announces The Groundbreaking Of Queens Community House’s Multi-million Forest Hills Community Center Modernization Project

Upgraded Facility Will Allow for Expanded Programming to Reach and Support Greater Audience

July 29, 2021

Project Supports New York City Regional Economic Development Council's Childcare and Workforce Development Strategies

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the groundbreaking of Queens Community House’s multi-million Forest Hills Community Center project. The modernization of the 19,000-square-foot community center will allow Queens Community House to reclaim more than 2,000 square feet of currently unusable space for its programming, including its Queens Childcare Network, while featuring a range of workforce development, social service and neighborhood-strengthening services. ESD has agreed to support this project with a $1.4 million capital grant, recommended by the New York City Regional Economic Development Council to align with the Council’s childcare and workforce development strategies.

Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, "The modernization of the Forest Hills Community Center will enable Queens Community House to significantly expand the quality programs and services it provides to local families. This project is an important investment in building regional childcare and workforce development capacity, delivering on the State's priority to support New York's working families and strengthen its economy.” 

The modernized facility will allow Queens Community House to support additional sites throughout the borough. The project also includes the fit-out of a new 7,500-square-foot space in a mixed-use building constructed on the NYCHA Forest Hills Coop housing development campus that will house Queens Community House’s ESL classes and immigration legal services program.

First opened in 1976 and in need of significant repairs, the Forest Hills Community Center facility serves more than 500 people throughout the surrounding neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park and Corona daily. The Center’s programming provides training and technical assistance to a growing network of registered and licensed in-home family childcare providers throughout Queens that will eventually serve nearly 650 children.

Executive Director of Queens Community House Ben Thomases said, “In the 45 years that the Forest Hills Community Center has been a home for QCH’s programs and a hub for our participants, our use of the space has changed to meet the needs of the community. The improvement of and addition to these program spaces on the FHCC campus is critical to meet the growing needs of the communities QCH serves throughout the borough of Queens, and QCH eagerly looks forward to welcoming our neighbors back to the transformed campus.”

New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher, Partner at Fisher Brothers, and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor, said, “Supporting childcare and workforce development is a pillar of the Council’s regional strategy. We are proud to invest in projects that will expand crucial programs and services that will significantly impact the community. The modernization of Queens Community House’s Forest Hills Community Center will have a positive long-term impact on working families' economic and social well-being.”

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “The Queens Community House provides much needed services to many of our neighbors. This renovation will allow QCH to upgrade and modernize both facilities and programmatic services allowing significant improvements for older adults. teens and young children. QCH has been vital throughout the pandemic, from feeding the homebound, to mentoring young people and assisting the most vulnerable around us. This funding will be an exciting new chapter for the Forest Hills community and a welcome upgrade for the hundreds of people who utilize this center each day."

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. said, “Ever since it opened, Queens Community House has excelled at providing individuals and families with tools they can use to enrich their lives and build healthy, inclusive communities. The modernization of the Forest Hills Community Center will better enable Queens Community House to provide those tools and will allow QCH to continue to offer high-quality programming and services to the people of Queens for decades to come. We salute Queens Community House for all the great work it has done so far, and we look forward to all it will accomplish thanks to this vitally important modernization.”

About Empire State Development 

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

About Queens Community House

Queens Community House (QCH) is a multi-service settlement house serving more than 25,000 children, youth, adults and older adults every year. The mission of QCH is to provide individuals and families with the tools to enrich their lives and build healthy, inclusive communities. Through a broad network of programs operating out of 32 sites in 14 neighborhoods, QCH offers Queens residents a needed support system at every stage of life, helping them to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to change their lives for the better and become active participants in their larger community. For more information on Queens Community House, please visit www.qchnyc.org.

Emily Mijatovic (ESD) | [email protected] | (646) 285-5671 | (800) 260-7313