By Gina Martinez
Forest Hills Jewish Center will be getting some upgrades.
Executive Director Deborah Gregor confirmed that the center, located at 106-06 Queens Blvd., is in early discussions with developers to “modernize” the building. During the renovation, the center will move into temporary quarters on Austin Street, probably in 2019.
The community center has been a fixture in the Forest Hills neighborhood community for than 80 years. It currently houses a nursery school, a religious school and a self-help senior center.
The main reason for the repairs, Gregor said, is that the building’s original design is outdated. She said the current building was designed and built in the 1940s for a congregation that was much different from the one served now.
“What the congregants of FHJC hope to achieve by this project is to sustain our congregation for generations to come,” Gregor said. “But our building is old. Its design no longer suits the needs of our current community, and it is too big and expensive to maintain and operate.
“Redeveloping our site will allow us to build the Forest Hills Jewish Center that our community needs now and for the future.”
Developers have been chosen, Gregor said, and there is an outline of a plan. The center will move into the temporary quarters on Austin Street while the existing building is being redeveloped. Once the work is done, she said, the center will return to the old location in a new facility designed to meet all congregation needs, housed in a building that will include commercial and residential components, and parking.
All mission-driven programs will continue to operate in the interim location, including daily, Shabbat and holiday services, and the nursery school, universal prekindergarten and the religious school. The SelfHelp Austin St. Senior Center will continue to be accommodated in the building.
Because the community center is a nonprofit, the plan must first be approved by the board of trustees, voted on by membership and approved by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. The current projected timeline, which is still not concrete, foresees submission of the proposal to the Attorney General’s Office in 2018 and a move to the temporary location in 2019.
“There are many complicated and difficult details to be resolved before the project can commence,” Gregor said, “but our ultimate goal from the start has always been, and continues to be, serving our members and our community, as we have for 88 years.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart