On December 9, 2022, city officials celebrated the opening of the Tree of Life affordable housing development with representatives from First Jamaica Community and Urban Development Corporation, Bluestone Organization and other project partners. The Tree of Life development is located at 89-46 164th Street.
The new development is a twelve-story building with 174 affordable units in a mix of studios to three-bedroom apartments. Fifty-three units will be permanently affordable through the City’s Inclusionary Housing program. Through financing from the Mix & Match program, the apartments are available at a range of incomes between extremely-low to moderate/middle income households.
The building contains a fitness center and community room for residents. There is also over 25,000 square feet of community facility space, which will include a 15,000 square foot healthcare facility and 10,000 square feet for an anticipated education and training center that will feature a library, computer area, individual counseling rooms and a conference room. The building will also have 63 parking spaces.
The project was made possible through a contribution of land and development rights by the First Jamaica Community and Urban Development Corporation, and its affiliate the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica. The development is part of the City’s larger commitment to create partnerships with faith-based and community organizations.
The project cost $83 million and includes contributions from both public and private partners. The funding includes $28 million in City subsidy, over $30 million in tax-exempt bonds from the Housing and Development Corporation, and $12.2 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from Raymond James. Former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s office contributed $1.5 million and the City Council contributed $500,000 in Reso A funds.
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. stated, “Tree of Life combines City investment, innovative programs like Voluntary Inclusionary Housing, and vital federal resources to create 174 affordable homes – a third of which are permanently affordable – in a passive house development that will bring jobs and services to the neighborhood. Thanks to the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica and The Bluestone Organization for their partnership and vision in creating lasting affordability and economic opportunity for Jamaica.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. stated, “There’s only one way out of the affordable housing crisis our city has experienced for years, and that’s to build and build fast. No family deserves to spend the night in a homeless shelter, and we must work with unprecedented urgency to ensure that each individual in our shelter system has a home to call their own. That’s what we’ve accomplished here in Jamaica today with the Tree of Life, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work of all our partners who made this facility a reality. To all those families who will soon be moving in, welcome home.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz stated, “For Queens County to truly thrive, we must not only serve and protect our communities, but also work to uplift our neighbors with affordable housing and economic opportunities. I was proud to have played a role in advocating for this project and allocating funding for the Tree of Life development during my tenure as Borough President. I extend special gratitude to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards as well as the city and private stakeholders for seeing this project through to completion.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)