Affordable Units And Retail Coming To Downtown Far Rockaway

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“After many decades of disinvestment, today we are turning the page for Downtown Far Rockaway,” so said Councilman Donovan Richards as he and various city agencies announced plans for 670 units of affordable housing as part of the redevelopment of Downtown Far Rockaway.

On Wednesday, Richards was joined by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in announcing that The Community Builders Inc., a nonprofit developer, will create 224 affordable housing units, commercial and community facility space on a City-owned lot at Beach 21st Street.

HPD and HDC have also recently closed on construction financing to deliver 457 units of affordable housing for the initial phase of the Far Rockaway Village project, which will transform the neighborhood’s long-neglected shopping center into a mix of affordable housing, modern retail, and public space, serving as a village center for the neighborhood.

Richards said the announcement is “another step in the direction of progress” and that “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.”

Less than a year ago, the City Council approved the neighborhood’s rezoning. At the time, the City said it was “committed to reestablishing the area as a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood and the commercial hub of the peninsula.”

“We’re making good on our promise to Downtown Far Rockaway. The City is delivering unprecedented investment that will improve the lives of residents and bring new vibrancy and opportunity to the neighborhood,” NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett said.

According to the City, the Beach 21st Street development will be transformed into a mixed-use, mixed-income development with more than 130 units allocated for 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 approximately 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 approximately 90 parking spots for residents of the building and the public.

Adjacent to a planned DOT pedestrian plaza and across the street from the new Beach 20th Street plaza, the project will deliver new retail and housing options in a central site in the neighborhood, encouraging new investment throughout the rezoning area. 

The project is expected to create more than 70 permanent jobs and over 470 construction jobs. The Community Builders Inc. has committed to 40 percent M/W/DBE participation, and participation in the City’s HireNYC initiative. The project is expected to break ground in 2019, with completion in 2021.

The Far Rockaway Village phase of the Downtown Far Rockaway plan, will replace the largely abandoned shopping center with new mixed-income housing, centralized public space, and enhanced retail that better serves the community.

The first phase of the project will also deliver 92,000 square feet of commercial space and 23,000 square feet of public plaza space to the heart of the neighborhood. Construction of the first phase of the project is expected to be complete by late 2021.

The City’s comprehensive plan for Downtown Far Rockaway includes efforts from a range of City agencies, and investments in infrastructure, parks, community facilities, housing resources, and small-business support. Highlights of the City’s Far Rockaway investments include:

◆        Building a new open space on the site of a vacant DSNY site at Brunswick and Nameoke.

◆        Advancing comprehensive renovation of the Downtown Far Rockaway Library.

◆        Upgrading sewer infrastructure, expanding sidewalks, and creating new public plazas, including the new plaza adjacent to this site on Beach 21st Street.

◆        Providing free legal services for Rockaway residents facing unlawful evictions and tenant harassment.

◆        Supporting existing businesses through free legal services and increasing access to other small business resources.

◆        Sourcing grants for cultural organizations and increased arts programming.

◆        Installing real-time bus arrival displays at key bus stops.

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