Vacant hotel near JFK Airport to become 300+ permanently affordable apartments
Rendering of the indoor/outdoor garden planned for residents at Baisley Pond Park Residences. Courtesy of OSD
An empty hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens will be converted into a permanently affordable housing development with 300 apartments. Slate Property Group, RiseBoro Community Partnership, and the city’s Housing Development Corporation on Monday announced the acquisition of the former JFK Hilton Hotel for $64 million, the first step in converting the vacant hotel into homes for low-income households and formerly homeless New Yorkers. Construction is expected to kick off next month.
The JFK Hilton Hotel is New York City’s first former hotel to be converted into affordable housing through the state’s Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA). Enacted in 2021, the HONDA program aims to incentivize developers to convert vacant office buildings and hotels into affordable housing.
“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,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “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.”
Designed by Aufgang Architects, the project, dubbed the Baisley Pond Residences, includes all-new major heating and cooling systems to significantly reduce its carbon emissions. The building also features rooftop solar panels and efficient Energy Star appliances and will be certified by Enterprise Green Communities.
The new apartments include full kitchens and ADA-compliant bathrooms, as well as amenities like community rooms, a computer lounge, a fitness room, and on-site laundry services. Residents can also enjoy a breathtaking indoor and outdoor garden space designed by landscape architectural firm OSD.
Rent for the low-income apartments will start at $784/month for studios to $1,493/month for two bedrooms. Roughly 60 percent of the units will be designated for people struggling with homelessness, according to the New York Times.
“Working with our non-profit and government partners, we have cracked the code of converting former hotels into permanently affordable homes. As we face down a national housing and homelessness crisis, this project is a model that points the way to rapidly bring new apartments online more than a year faster than ground-up construction,” David Schwartz, principal of Slate Property Group, said.
Work on Baisley Pond Park Residences is scheduled for completion in just 21 months thanks to the hotel’s existing layout requiring minimal reworking. A typical conventional ground-up development project on a building of a similar scale usually takes around 36 months to complete.
RiseBoro will manage the property and provide on-site services for residents as they transition to the new housing. The former hotel’s commercial kitchen is being transformed into a facility for Meals on Wheels that will help support RiseBoro’s clients.
The on-site supportive services will be funded through a long-term contract with the Department of Social Services as part of the agency’s Affordable Housing Services Program.
Of the $167 million total development cost, $48 million is being funded through HONDA, while the remaining funding is being provided through a $50 million senior loan from the NYC Housing Development Corporation and other loans from various city and state agencies.
“Creativity is necessary to fill New York City’s need for affordable housing and, with Baisley Pond Park Residences, all parties involved have met that challenge,” Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership, said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the first successful hotel conversion in New York and look forward to taking another step in bringing affordability and access to the people of this city.”