Development Boom: What’s Going Up?


 Construction fences, heavy machinery and scaffolding dot the peninsula as many curious passerby wonder, what’s going on here? In the past few years, a development boom has taken place on the peninsula. From hotels to medical offices to residential buildings, Rockaway continues to rise higher.

In the past few years, developers have come to know what residents have known for much longer. Living in a little paradise by the sea, with Manhattan just a bus, train, and now ferry ride away, is a pretty sweet deal. Investors and developers have been taking a chance on Rockaway, resulting in a residential building boom. Last summer, a brick residential building at 93-06 Shore Front Parkway was completed and a city housing lottery for the apartments starting as low as $690, closed by the end of the year, with thousands applying for just 63 spots. Now many more developments are in the works.

In Arverne, Arverne by the Sea (ABTS) has been developing the area for more than a decade and they recently broke ground on another big piece of the puzzle—The Tides. This most recent development in the Beach 60s will consist of 214 market-rate rental units within two mid-rise buildings, plus commercial space and ground-level parking. The units will range from studios to three bedrooms, with luxury apartments on upper levels. The first building of this project is expected to be complete by spring 2018. By the time the whole ABTS development is complete, it will be made up of 2,300 housing units.

In Rockaway Beach, another residential building development is taking place. The 29-unit, 40-foot building at 142 Beach 96th Street was supposed to be completed by April 2016, but the apparent skeleton of the building shows a lot of work is yet to be done. The Rockaway Times reached out to the owners “405 8 LLC” for more information on what’s to come and when, but did not receive a response by press time.  On the bayside of Rockaway Beach, some construction fences at 87-06 Beach Channel Drive, have been peaking curiosity, with such a prime bayside location being worked on. Rumors of new condos have been swirling around for the 113 x 266 square foot lot owned by Bedford 169 Inc. However, when we reached out to Expert Designers, the company working on the project, we were told that they’re simply clearing the land and preparing to rebuild a Sandy-damaged home already at this property.

Fires during Hurricane Sandy may have burnt down the area around Beach 114th and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, but it will soon be revitalized with the completion of another new residential building. Local resident Dino Tomassetti of Laquila group purchased the property in 2015. The building in progress will contain 54 residential units, with two retail units, and a medical and community facility. According to Laquila Group, this project should be done by November of this year. Irene Tomassetti of Laquila says now is the perfect time to invest in Rockaway. “We feel that Rockaway is really being revitalized. It has a lot of new things going on and it has become even more accessible because of the ferry. It’s really on the upswing and has a good future.”

The beach block of Beach 116th Street is getting a boost with One Sixteen. The Marcal Group is getting ready to break ground on the first part of this development, an 8-story building with 90 condos and commercial space on the ground floor. Mark Caller, principal of the Marcal Group expects to break ground on this building at the former Beach Club site by the end of the month. The other projects as part of this development by the Marcal Group include a building of 60-70 affordable rental units for seniors on Beach 117th Street. Two other residential buildings, one on the east side of Beach 116th Street, and another facing Beach 115th Street, won’t be developed for at least another two years.

In addition to places to live, Rockaway will be getting some new places to stay. In August 2015, Mike McMahon purchased the Rogers Pub building and announced plans to turn the upstairs portion of the building into a hotel, like it was in its heyday. The space would allow for as many as 28 hotel rooms. The RT reached out to McMahon for the latest on this development, only to find that the plan is on hold. “The hotel is on hold for now, but we hope to have it up by the 100th anniversary of Rogers—in 2019,” McMahon said. We also inquired about some other McMahon properties, including the site of the old Bryan’s Auto across from St. Camillus. As for this, there are ongoing negotiations to bring in a martial arts school at this property, but McMahon’s longterm plans are to develop the site and bring in 30 condos. McMahon says Rockaway is ideal for developers because “it’s still the cheapest place in the city to invest and it’s a great community,” he said. “Now with the ferry, it’s even easier to get to the city. It’s made a great impact on business and has been fantastic for Rockaway.” Rogers won’t be the only new hotel. Plans are still underway for the Tubridy-owned Rockaway Beach Hotel coming to Beach 108th and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The relocation of the cell tower at the site has held up plans, but the family believes the issue will be resolved come fall. In the meantime, the Blvd Project and beer garden at the site have been keeping ferry crowds and locals entertained for the summer.

With the increase of visitors and residents over the years, necessities like medical services have become a concern. However, a new development at Beach 105th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard hopes to address that. The 60,000 square-foot, four-story Rockaway Medical Arts Complex will include a surgery center for a wide variety of specialty surgeries, an on-site lab and imagine center, private doctors offering primary care and specialty services like ophthalmology, gynecology, orthopedics, oncology, urology, pain management, physical therapy, general surgery and more. According to Dr. Mark Gelwan, who spearheaded the project, the building will be complete by the end of the year and will be in full operation by the first quarter of next year.

Another construction project that some may be curious about? The Harbor Light. The beloved Belle Harbor restaurant was destroyed by fire during Hurricane Sandy. Significant progress has been made on the building, but the completion is still up in the air. The completion date remains uncertain because an entity called the Board of Standards and Appeals must first review and rule on the building application. Such a review is still some months away. Here’s to hoping it’s sooner than later.

By Katie McFadden


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