Queensbridge Houses to get a bank


| pdavis@queenscourier.com |

Residents of the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the country, can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in their long battle to acquire a bank that is easily accessible in their neighborhood.
On Monday, June 11, the Queens Borough Board voted unanimously to approve a resolution to submit a Banking Development District (BDD) application to bring a local Amalgamated Bank branch to Long Island City.
“I think this is a significant step for the neighborhood and fits into the larger plan of financial planning and empowerment,” said City Councilman Eric Gioia, who said he noticed the problem of the community not having a bank as soon as he took office more than four years ago.
The bank, which will be located at 36-16 21st Street, is planning to open its doors in January 2007.
Gioia, along with Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Pastor Mitchell G. Taylor, Chairman of the East River Development Alliance (ERDA) and other civic and neighborhood leaders have been advocating for a bank in this area for many years. Gioia's office financed a study conducted by Pace University and ERDA which found that without a local branch, many residents do not have bank accounts or even use a bank, relying on fee-laden check-cashing services instead.
Gioia and Taylor both tried to lure banks to Queensbridge through the state’s BDD initiative, which offers incentives like tax abatements, workforce training, and public deposits.
“Once we began to highlight this issue and get attention, city-wide a number of banks contacted us,” Gioia said.
In addition to thanking the various political leaders who helped make this project possible, Nolan added, “most of all, I want to thank Derrick Cephas, CEO of Amalgamated Bank, for his vision in recognizing Long Island City as a great location.”