Revolutionary Shift: Baisley Pond Park Hotel to Housing Haven

Revolutionary Shift: Baisley Pond Park Hotel to Housing Haven

In Queens, amidst the hustle and bustle near JFK Airport, a remarkable transformation is taking place. The 350-room JFK Hilton, once a bustling hotel, is now on the path to becoming a beacon of hope for low-income and formerly homeless New Yorkers. This shift is part of a groundbreaking initiative known as the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA). Under this program, hotels left vacant during the pandemic are being converted into affordable housing, and the JFK Hilton is leading the way.

The $167 million conversion of the Hilton is progressing steadily, with interior demolition completed and plans underway to create 318 apartments within its walls. While the journey has not been without its challenges, including limited funding and logistical hurdles, the vision of providing dignified housing for those in need remains unwavering.

Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City, highlighted the initial shortcomings of the HONDA program due to budget constraints. Despite this, the perseverance of all involved parties, including private developer Slate Property Group and nonprofit partner RiseBoro Community Partnership, is propelling the project forward.

However, the road to repurposing hotels into residences is not without roadblocks. Many hotels lack the necessary room sizes for conversion, and zoning regulations further complicate the process. The current migrant crisis has also played a role, affecting the availability and pricing of hotel rooms, making the task even more challenging.

Nonetheless, the Baisley Pond Park Residences project symbolizes a glimmer of hope in these tumultuous times. Scheduled to reopen as residences in October 2025, this initiative showcases the power of collaboration between city and state officials. Speaker of the New York City Council, Adrienne Adams, expressed optimism regarding the project, emphasizing the potential for more successful conversions in the future.

As the JFK Hilton undergoes its metamorphosis into the Baisley Pond Park Residences, it stands as a testament to what collective effort and dedication can achieve. While challenges persist, the journey towards providing affordable housing for New Yorkers progresses, one step at a time. The story of this transformation serves as a beacon of resilience and hope in the realm of housing initiatives, inspiring communities to come together for a common goal.

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