The City Council gave the Edgemere Commons mega-project in Far Rockaway the green light on Nov. 14, which will bring a record-breaking 2,050 units of mixed-income affordable housing, reactivate the site of the former Peninsula Hospital and serve as an anchor of economic growth in the Rockaways.
The Edgemere neighborhood, an area where the median family income is the lowest on the peninsula, will benefit from hundreds of permanent and construction jobs and the project is expected to bring in a new supermarket, Western Beef, to the neighborhood, according to the developer Arker Companies.
“From the start, we wanted a project that had the best interests of the community at its heart. Edgemere Commons will not only help to rebuild the Rockaway Peninsula, but will also revitalize the neighborhood and bring in a new era of economic growth,” Arker Companies Principal Daniel Moritz said. “We are pleased to have the support of the City Council and Council member [Donovan] Richards in particular, as we begin construction on a plan that will reinvigorate Edgemere and start a new chapter in its history.”
Many community groups were in favor of the development as it made its way through the city’s public review process, including the Rockaway Youth Task Force, which advocated on behalf of the project before the community board, borough president, and city planning hearings. The group sent Richards a letter urging him to vote yes and open the doors of opportunity to the younger generation.
“For far too long we’ve seen opportunity slip away in Edgemere. We’ve seen other families move away because of a lack of opportunities and we’ve lost many of our friends as well,” the letter signed by 30 task force members said. “When we talk with our peers about plans for the future, we would love to stay close to home, but Edgemere doesn’t have the housing or opportunity for us to stay. We want to change that, and we want it to change quickly.”
City Council tradition is the vote of the member who represents the area in question will normally hold sway. Richards voted yes and the council followed 47-0.
“This project will serve as a template for what a resilient mixed-use development should look like in the 21st Century,” Richards said. “During a time when our city is facing one of the largest housing crises we have ever witnessed, this project will produce over 2,000 units of true affordable housing. I want to thank the Arker Companies for their commitment to the Rockaway community and I would also like to thank Community Board 14, the Peninsula Hospital Task Force, and all of the community stakeholders who engaged in this project.”
Edgemere Commons will be built in five phases and construction is slated to begin in 2020. The development includes 11 buildings, the creation of a new street network and will dedicate 72,000 square feet to local and national retailers, restaurants and coffee shops.
Arker Companies says Edgemere Commons is expected to spur economic development, bringing in $1.486 billion in growth and creating 300 to 350 annual construction jobs as well as 650 permanent jobs for locals in neighborhood retail, residential operation and management, health and community services. As part of Arker Companies’ commitment to promote neighborhood opportunity, they will launch a $2 million Community Benefits and Youth Development fund and build a community center in the complex.
“Today, young people growing up on the Rockaway Peninsula see a future where opportunity and affordability are slipping away,” Rockaway Youth Task Force Founder and Executive Director Milan Taylor said. “By bringing thousands of new affordable apartments to the Rockaway Peninsula, Edgemere Commons will spur economic development so that the next generation of our youth will have the opportunity to succeed in our community.”
The project will feature innovative resiliency and storm preparedness measures including bioswales, bioretention rainwater system solar panels, green and gray water infrastructure and extended tree pits. Standby generators will be included in all buildings with emergency outlets in each unit.
The completion date for the Edgemere Commons project is 2034.