The long-delayed Edgemere Commons mega-project in Far Rockaway is expected to break ground in January after Tishman Speyer’s TS Communities on Nov. 19 announced that it has entered an agreement with Arker Companies to acquire and develop 10 of the 11 building sites at the location of the former Peninsula Hospital.
The 100% affordable housing development will encompass 2,050 apartments, including 237 that will be set aside for seniors. It was originally approved by the City Council in November 2019 and was expected to begin construction in 2020.
“We are proud to join the Edgemere community and look forward to working with residents and local elected officials to advance the three pillars of Edgemere Commons: affordability, community and resiliency,” TS Communities Managing Director Gary Rodney said. “Real estate is more than buildings. Our team is committed to building community and connection by focusing on what people need to make their lives and their neighborhoods better.”
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 will include a community center, medial space and 72,000 square feet of “neighborhood-oriented retail,” including a supermarket, fitness center, food and beverage and shops, as well as 973 accessory parking spaces.
“Edgemere Commons will increase the availability of affordable housing in Far Rockaway and bring many amenities that will benefit both existing and future residents,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The planned supermarket is especially needed in this community, which is considered a food desert because of its lack of easy access to healthy and nutritious food. I look forward to making sure all of this project’s community benefits will come to fruition and are fully enjoyed by Far Rockaway’s great residents.”
Under the $90 million deal, The Arker Companies will break ground on the first Edgemere Commons building in January. Tishman Speyers will develop, own and manage the remaining 10 buildings, including the retail, community and public spaces.
“We are excited to break ground on the first phase of Edgemere Commons in January and finally start to realize the promise of this revitalizing community project. With a full-scale grocery store, critically needed housing for low-income families, good-paying jobs and spaces for people to enjoy and be proud of their neighborhood, we cannot wait to get started,’ said Daniel Moritz, principal, the Arker Companies. “In cooperation with Tishman Speyer, we will ensure that this project lives up to every promise made, as the community has put its faith in us, and we do not take that lightly. From eradicating a food desert to real investment through the community development fund, this is much bigger than the buildings itself.”
The mega-development will rise on the 9,34-acre site of the former Peninsula Hospital, which permanently closed in 2012 amid health, safety and financial difficulties in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Edgemere Commons will feature a host of resiliency and storm preparedness measures to handle extreme weather events, and several streets will be elevated above sea level for long-term preparedness.
The project is expected to create 350 jobs in construction and related industries annually as well as 650 permanent jobs, the bulk of which will be filled by residents from the local community.
In addition to building a community center and creating new open spaces, the development team will launch a $2 million Community Benefits and Youth Development Fund.
“While I’m hopeful this project will help in addressing our city’s housing crisis, on a local level, the Edgemere Commons project is bringing much-needed commercial space,” Edgemere community activist Manny Silva said. “For as long as I can remember, our neighborhoods have been devoid of the basic amenities that any neighborhood needs to be successful. I truly look forward to the opportunities and services this project will bring to the Rockaways.”