By Bill Parry
When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Rockaway peninsula in October 2012, it did extensive damage to the Ocean Bay Apartments complex, a 24-building, 1,395-unit NYCHA campus, home to nearly 4,000 low-income New Yorkers.
Now, nearly five years later, the development is in the process of a massive three-year, $560 million restoration project in which each apartment will receive extensive renovations of the kitchens and bathrooms. The complex will get roof replacements, a complete upgrade of elevator machinery and equipment, new boilers and heating systems.
The complex, located along Beach Channel Drive between Beach 54th and Beach 58th street in Far Rockaway, is undergoing the first phase in the city’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together program, which implements the federal government’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program to ensure that NYCHA retains ownership of the Ocean Bay properties and that they remain affordable for future generations.
“Through PACT, we are able to provide our residents with the necessary repairs while also preserving public housing for future generations,” NYCHA Chairwoman and CEO Shola Olatoye said. “This innovative partnership will strengthen the Ocean Bay community and provide almost 1,400 New York families with much-needed upgrades and improvements to their homes.”
Completed and first occupied in the early 1960s, the aging development was already facing critical maintenance needs and a deteriorating infrastructure before Hurricane Sandy caused extensive flooding and the destruction of the central heating plant. To this day, the complex still relies on temporary boilers.
“This long overdue restoration will improve the standard of living for the thousands of residents of Ocean Bay,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “The new security cameras, in particular, are intended to enhance security for the families who call Ocean Bay home. With these extensive restorations, the community will finally be able to enjoy a better quality of life through the completion of these infrastructure improvements.”
To prepare for future extreme weather events, the restoration will also include several resiliency measures, including a flood wall surrounding the development, water retention swales, stand-alone electric service buildings built above the flood zone, and the conversion from one central boiler system to 24 individual hydronic boilers on the roof of each building.
“I am proud to support the restoration of Ocean Bay Apartments, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy,” state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) said. “This development provides vital housing to thousands of vulnerable residents and is an important part of the community. It will ensure that Ocean Bay Apartments remain a clean, safe place to live. This renovation is just another testament to how Far Rockaway is coming back stronger and better than ever after Hurricane Sandy.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr