On December 18, 2023, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and project partners announced a plan to transform the former JFK Hilton Hotel into permanently affordable housing. The project, Baisley Pond Park Residence, will provide housing for low-income and formerly homeless New Yorkers in South Jamaica, Queens.
The hotel was originally built in 1987 and featured 350 rooms. The building is located a half-mile from the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The project will create 318 permanently affordable apartments, which will all have full kitchens and ADA-compliant bathrooms. The building will have community rooms, a fitness room, on-site laundry, and a computer lounge. The site will feature an indoor/outdoor garden space for residents designed by landscape architecture firm OSD.
Rents are expected to range from $784 for a studio to $1,493 for a two-bedroom unit. RiseBoro Community Partnership will serve as the non-profit ownership and management, made possible by the Department of Social Services’ Affordable Housing Services Program. RiseBoro will also offer onsite support and wrap-around services for transitioning residents. The former commercial kitchen for the hotel will be converted to a Meals on Wheels facility that will also serve RiseBoro clients.
Construction is expected to begin next month. As the hotel’s structure has generally compatible layouts to apartment style living, the project will focus on selective changes to internal walls to create the apartments, which will reduce the expected construction time from 36 months to 21 months.
The project is expected to cost $167 million. Of that, $48 million is provided through the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act program. The remaining funding will come from a $50 million senior loan from the Housing Development Corporation, bonds and loans.
Mayor Eric Adams stated, “Digging our city out of this severe housing shortage will require every tool in our toolbox, and our administration helped win an important fight to add this hotel conversion. Advancing this plan to turn a vacant hotel into more than 300 new, affordable homes is a sign that we can think outside of the box and take advantage of the opportunities in front of us. I want to thank our partners in Albany for making it possible to turn empty hotels into affordable homes and our development partners who will deliver on the promise of this idea for hundreds of New Yorkers.”
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr stated, “There’s nothing NYC can’t do with a bit of creativity and the will to improve our neighbors’ lives. The conversion of the JFK Hilton marks the first of its kind and an incredibly clever measure the city is taking to fill homes with the people who need them most. In just 21 months, this hotel conversion will get low-income and formerly homeless New Yorkers into permanently affordable homes faster, with the urgency that every New Yorker deserves.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)