Big Six Towers

Called ‘The Jewel of Woodside” for its verdant spaces and community spirit, the Big Six Towers has provided Queens residents with affordable housing for fully half a century. This Mitchell-Lama seven-building complex, built in 1963, was sponsored by the New York Typographical Union Local Six, known as the “Big Six,” and is named in its honor. Home to 983 families and individuals, nearly a third of whom are current or retired union members, The Big Six Towers feature two playgrounds, majestic oak tree groves and flowerbeds surrounded by sloping lawns and open spaces for picnicking and socializing.

Like all aging properties; Big Six had significant capital needs, which totaled $11.5 million. Repairs needed at Big Six included the replacement of windows and patio doors, walkway and parking lot repaving, and extensive repairs to the shopping façade.

Maintaining Big Six as affordable housing was important, but the residents of the community knew that they were facing some difficult choices in figuring out how to pay for repairs. One way would be to move to an open market model, something that other developments across the City had done, where maintenance charges would shoot up and generate income. Despite the allure of the increased value of apartments on the open market, there were strong feelings about not taking that direction. Instead, the residents came to HDC to restructure their debt and meet capital needs through the Mitchell-Lama Preservation Program.

“The capacity to preserve affordability in developments that have benefitted from government assistance in the past, as in the case of Mitchell-Lama developments, is one of the most powerful tools we have in the NHMP,” said HDC President Jahr.

In 2010, Edwin Bennett, President of the Big Six Board of Directors remarked: “As residents and shareholders in Big Six Towers since it first opened in 1963, my family and I can personally attest to its value to us and our surrounding Queens’ communities. It is self-evident to the fortunate families here that the economic and social stability that comes with being a shareholder here is beyond measure and that the presence of Big Six only adds to the economic and social stability of our area as a whole.”

HDC responded to the Big Six Towers’ plea for help and structured a $40 million bond issue that restructured existing debt and funded over $11 million of needed repairs for the complex, thus meeting two crucial needs—funding capital repairs and protecting the affordability of the development.