Downtown Far Rockaway set to get 681 apartments


Decrepit downtown Far Rockaway is set for a facelift by 2021, as 681 units of housing — ranging from low-income through “affordable” — rise on two pivotal sites in “Far Rockaway Village.” Groundbreaking is expected next year.

“This courageous venture will reimagine downtown Far Rockaway as the crown jewel it once was,” said state Senator James Sanders Jr. “Revitalization coming to this end of the Rockaways is long overdue, and finally it will receive the attention it has long deserved.”

The two sites, which abut the Mott Avenue terminal of the A Train, include a municipal parking lot on Beach 21st Street and the long abandoned shopping center that separates the subway station from the LIRR terminal on Nameoke Avenue three blocks away. The plan will not connect the rail services or otherwise improve transit connectivity.

The housing plans were unveiled last week by New York City’s Economic Development Corporation; the Department of Housing Preservation and Development; the Housing Development Corporation, and City Councilman Donovan Richards, ten months after a rezoning plan was approved.

The HPD and HDC recently closed on construction financing to have 457 units of what they describe as affordable housing built in the first phase of the Far Rockaway Village project, which will transform the shopping center into what officials called “a vibrant mix of affordable housing, modern retail, and public space, serving as a village center for the neighborhood.”

City officials also announced the selection of The Community Builders, a nonprofit developer of affordable and mixed-income housing, to build 224 units of mixed income affordable housing, commercial space and community facilities on the city-owned lot at Beach 21st Street.

Officials said the city is committed to reestablishing the area as a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood and the commercial hub of the peninsula as part of the Roadmap for Action, a 25-point interagency plan for neighborhood-wide investment. The roadmap was developed in response to recommendations from the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group and served as the framework for rezoning the neighborhood.

“As with every project in the Rockaways, we will work with the developer to ensure that we address the highest community needs, such as daycare services, good jobs and quality retail,” Richards said. “I look forward to working with The Community Builders to ensure this site delivers the progress we need in Far Rockaway.”

The Beach 21st Street site will include a new mixed-use, mixed-income development with more than 130 units allocated to households earning up to 60 percent of area median income. The remaining units will be offered at a range of affordability levels.

The project will also create roughly 24,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, 8,000 square feet of community space for early childhood education and other community services, and nearly 90 parking spots for building residents and the public.

Adjacent to a planned DOT pedestrian plaza and across the street from a new Beach 21th Street plaza, the development, with new retail and housing in a central site in the neighborhood, is meant to encourage new investment throughout the rezoning area.

Officials said they expect the undertaking to create more than 70 permanent jobs and more than 470 construction jobs. The Community Builders has committed to a diverse workforce and will take part in the City’s HireNYC initiative, which encourages companies to hire city residents.

“Today marks real progress as we advance a comprehensive community plan for downtown Far Rockaway through financing for the first phase of Rockaway Village, which will transform a long-underused site into a vibrant mixed-use development anchored by affordable housing, and the designation of a nonprofit partner to breathe new life into Beach 21st Street,” HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said.

“The more work we put into our neighborhoods, the better the outcome will be for future generations,” Rockaway Beach Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “As Far Rockaway continues to grow and develop, we must ensure that additional investments are secured so that our families can grow and thrive.”

Jeffrey Bessen of the Rockaway Journal contributed to this report.