By Naeisha Rose
The city has furthered its commitment to Downtown Far Rockaway’s development by announcing its plan to deliver on more than 670 units of affordable housing last week, according to City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway).
The affordable housing units will be provided by two non-profits and in two locations within the core of Downtown Far Rockaway, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
“Today’s announcement is another step in the direction of progress for Downtown Far Rockaway,” said Richards July 11.
The city selected The Community Builders, Inc., a leading non-profit developer of affordable and mixed-income housing, to transform a city-owned lot at Beach 21st Street into 224 units of mixed-income, affordable housing, commercial space and community facilities, according to the EDC.
It also chose Phipps Houses, a not-profit developer, owner and manager of affordable housing throughout the city, to transform a dilapidated shopping center located at 20-02 Mott Ave. into a 457-unit mixed-income housing complex, with an enhanced shopping facility and centralized public space, according to the EDC.
“The heart of the peninsula, already a bustling epicenter for retail, transportation, entertainment, living and more under this courageous venture will reimagine Downtown Far Rockaway as the crown jewel it once was, is and shall be more than ever,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Far Rockaway).
The community space at Beach 21st Street will be 8,000 square feet, the ground-floor retail space will be 24,000 square feet, and the residential area will be 170,000 square feet by 2021, according to the EDC. A groundbreaking is expected for 2019.
Far Rockaway Village will provide a 23,000-square-foot public plaza, 92,000 square feet of commercial space and 450,892 square feet of residential space for the first phase of the project by 2021.
Additional housing units and commercial space will be added after the initial stage, according to Ryan Birchmeier, an EDC spokesman.
At Beach Street, 130 units are to be allocated for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, and the remaining will be offered at a range of affordability levels.
Far Rockaway Village will offer 67 units for extremely low-income households, 46 for formerly homeless households, and the remaining 388 units will serve a diverse range of household incomes including very low, low and moderate income individuals and families.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office puts the Rockaways’ average median income at $44,400 (2016) and its median monthly rent at $1,043 (2016).
The creation of the affordable housing units is a part of a wider $288 million interagency Far Rockaway redevelopment plan called Roadmap for Action, consisting of local officials, the EDC, the City Planning Commission, the Department of Housing Preservation, the Department of Transportation, Small Business Services and other organizations.
The Roadmap for Action initiative invested $126 million of the $288 million towards infrastructure and the acquisition of the 23 blocks , which was rezoned for the construction of affordable housing units located at Beach 21st and Far Rockaway Village, according to DiNapoli’s office.
“The more work we put into our neighborhoods, the better the outcome will be for future generations. I am excited that the city is taking the next step towards that investment,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Far Rockaway). “As Far Rockaway continues to grow and develop, we must ensure that additional investments are secured so that our families can grow and thrive.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose