There were five objectives that came along with the creation of the George T. Douris Tower in Astoria: affordability, sustainability, comfort, community and preserving the legacy of the Hellenic-American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC) founder, George T. Douris.
“I’m sure you will agree with us that we achieved all five objectives,” said John P. Kaiteris, executive director for HANAC – a nonprofit, multi-funded, citywide organization that serves local community residents – during the grand opening of the 183-unit housing for seniors, senior center and community services.
“George was a man of warmth, gusto and vision who wanted the best for all New Yorkers,” continued Kaiteris. “The tower is a fulfillment of his commitment to seniors in the Astoria community.”
Elected officials, local leaders, senior residents and HANAC affiliates gathered at the Douris Tower located at 27-40 Hoyt Avenue South in Astoria to officially cut the ribbon on the new housing, which features exercise and meditation rooms, arts and crafts, computer and conference rooms and a library among other amenities. It was built according to the Enterprise’s green communities criteria, which includes climate-sensitive trees and plants, water-conserving plumbing and Energy Star appliances. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney – who worked for HANAC in the early 1970s as an English as a second language teacher – compared the facility to a high-end hotel.
“It’s not a senior center, it’s not a housing project, it’s truly a magnificent home,” said Maloney, who had the 15th floor meditation room named in her honor. “Every single room is decorated differently. There is no institutional feeling about it.”
Borough President Helen Marshall and Council Speaker Christine Quinn took the opportunity to speak about other 110 senior centers from around the city, 19 in Queens, that are at risk for closure as a result of the reallocation of Title XX funds.
“The best way we can honor this facility and Mr. Douris’ memory is to join and prevent that cut like we did last year,” said Quinn.
Also in attendance for the ribbon cutting were former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr., Housing Development Corporation Commissioner Rafael Cestero and HANAC board of directors Chairperson and widow of the building namesake, Evangeline Douris.
“What a glorious day this is,” said Douris.
Residents Ann and Dorothy Katopis, who sat with many other seniors in attendance, expressed satisfaction with living in the new housing.
“The apartment is lovely. It’s bright, you have a lovely view,” said Dorothy, who works at a senior center in Jamaica. “It’s really a wonderful place to live.”
The project was funded by a combination of equity and grants from Enterprise Community Partners, the NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal, NYC Housing Development Corporation, the New York City Council, the New York State Assembly and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Citi and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Learn more about HANAC by visiting www.hanac.org.