It was all smiles in Far Rockaway at a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion $560 million redevelopment of the Ocean Bay Apartments complex Monday.
Home to nearly 4,000 residents, the massive 24-building, 1,395-unit public housing development located at Beach Channel Drive between Beach 54th and Beach 58th streets went through a phased restoration process in which residents were able to remain in their homes during the two-year process.
First built in the 1960s, Ocean Bay suffered from significant federal divestment, followed by extensive damages incurred when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Rockaways in 2012.
The redevelopment was NYCHA’s first and the country’s largest single-site conversion under HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program which moved the complex to a Section 8 platform with a long-term contract ensuring that the units remain permanently affordable to low-income households.
“For too long, New Yorkers in public housing have been treated as second-class citizens,” Councilman Donovan Richards said. “After extensive research and community engagement, it became clear that the fastest way to improve Ocean Bay Houses and provide residents with the safe, decent homes they deserve was through the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Tenants who have suffered for years living in dilapidated conditions, now have completely remodeled apartments that they are proud to invite friends and family over to visit.”
In addition to in-unit renovations, the project included roof replacements, the complete upgrade of elevator machinery and equipment, improved public hallways, and the installation of new boilers and heating systems.
“In the decades since my family and I lived in public housing, the quality and conditions of these buildings have significantly deteriorated,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “Families deserve the dignity of not living in squalor, no matter what their income. Thankfully HUD’s RAD program gives us the tools to renovate these dilapidated buildings, and as a result the Ocean Bay Apartments are now restored and better than ever.”
To ensure protection against future weather catastrophes, a secure flood wall was built around the entire 33-acre site with stand-alone electric service buildings built above the flood zone, and the one central boiler steam system was converted into 24 individual hydronic boilers on the roof of each building.
“The renovation of Ocean Bay has resulted in a resilient and environmentally friendly development of permanently affordable housing that will enrich the quality of life to Ocean Bay residents for many decades to come,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “The public-private partnership that successfully completed this innovative and energy-efficient project deserves to be commended for its commitment to creating a welcoming home for Ocean Bay’s nearly 4,000 residents.”