ASTORIA — Locals who like to build and tinker may soon have a place to practice their craft.
A group of residents working to open a "makerspace" in the neighborhood struck a deal to set up shop in a room at Variety Boys and Girls Club, a community center on 30th Road and 21st Street.
The space will act as a communal work site giving members access to a variety of tools and equipment for things like wood and metal working, laser printing, robotics, electronics and other fields.
Local engineer Joseph Kim has been collaborating with a friend who works as a technology teacher to launch the site, which will be called Iconyc (pronounced "iconic") and is expected to open this fall.
"Because we live in New York City, it's very hard to [be] manufacturing things or doing something simple, like cutting wood," Kim explained of the inspiration behind the project. "We didn’t really have a way of doing any of the things we sort of want."
The founders' plans are to stock the space with basic hand and power tools, and they are looking to collect other machinery and equipment through donations or by salvaging the items, Kim said. They also plan to offer educational courses for beginners, as well as weekly classes for kids in things like robotics using Legos.
Other details, including how much a membership will cost, are still being worked out. The founders created a Facebook group to host discussions with potential members, and they will also be running a both next week at the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science to help get the word out.
While similar "makerspaces" exist in parts of Manhattan and Staten Island, there currently aren't any in Astoria. The organizers held a meeting in the neighborhood in August that about 20 people showed up to, and Kim said there's been a lot of interest from people in the project.
"The response was great," he said. "We got a lot of great feedback."