City Council approves Resilient Edgemere Plan to rezone section of Rockaways hammered by Superstorm Sandy

Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers is getting praised for negotiating a stronger ‘Resilient Edgemere’ rezoning plan that was approved Thursday, July 14. (Photo courtesy of the New York City Council)

Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy pulverized the Rockaway Peninsula, the City Council approved a rezoning plan that reduces development in areas of flood risk and advances a community land trust to manage low-density housing and open space. The Resilient Edgemere Plan also facilitates the development of five mixed-use buildings with affordable housing, commercial spaces and community facilities along the A subway line.

During the city’s public review process, Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers successfully negotiated a comprehensive package of community benefits and new commitments to address concerns raised by Edgemere residents and other members of the Rockaway community.

“Thanks to the Resilient Edgemere zoning proposal, Edgemere will benefit from vital affordable homeownership opportunities, infrastructure investments and protection from a changing climate,” Brooks-Powers said. “Rockaway has seen a surge of new development in recent years, but that development has not been accompanied by a commensurate investment in local infrastructure. Over the course of several months, we came to the table repeatedly with the Adams administration to ensure my community’s critical needs are reflected in the final proposal. I am proud of what we were able to secure through positive, good-faith negotiations, and grateful to my colleagues in the Council for joining me in support of this project.”

Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the passage of the plan which paves the way for the creation of nearly 530 new affordable homes, 35% of which will be set aside for affordable homeownership opportunities. The plan also includes a new community land trust that will identify partners to own up to eight acres of city-owned land, new resiliency and coastal protection measures for vulnerable areas in the neighborhood.

“With the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan, my administration is delivering over 500 new affordable homes, urgent resiliency measures and critical neighborhood infrastructure — an important step forward for residents of Edgemere, the Rockaways and the entire city,” Adams said. “I look forward to continued partnership with the speaker and the City Council to tackle our affordable housing crisis, equip our neighborhoods for a changing climate and help our city recover from the pandemic.”

Rendering courtesy of Aufgang Architects

Speaker Adrienne Adams said the plan represents the type of investment and infrastructure planning that will benefit the neighborhoods on the eastern end of the peninsula.

“This comprehensive plan meets the needs of the local community while providing new opportunities for housing, commercial spaces and community facilities,” the speaker said. “Taken together, this project will help ease our city’s housing crisis while making critical investments to improve the lives of Edgemere’s residents and small businesses.”

The plan builds on the city’s broader resiliency planning efforts in the area, including over $80 million in investments in coastal protection projects and nearby NYCHA upgrades in recent years. This includes $14 million for a raised shoreline, an elevated berm that will protect Edgemere against 30 inches of sea level rise, and $68 million in improvements to NYCHA’s Beach 41st Street Houses and Beach 41st Street Cornerstone Community Center.

“Nearly a decade ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated the Edgemere community, leaving homeowners and renters desperate to be made whole and realize a true investment in resiliency,” Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said. “Resilient Edgemere commits to critical infrastructure upgrades and flood mitigation to protect Edgemere families against the next extreme weather event. With Resilient Edgemere comes a better commitment to oversight, accountability and community engagement via the Community Advisory Board.”

Community Board 14 voted to reject the proposals last February noting the plan would add too many apartments to a low-rise residential area while putting a strain on local roads and infrastructure. CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska gave a tip of the cap to Brooks-Powers for negotiating a stronger plan.

“The councilwoman did a great job negotiating and making the project much better for the residents of Edgemere, Council District 31 and all of Community Board 14,” Gaska said. “Density was reduced, the inclusion of home ownership, significant infrastructure funding for long-awaited local sewer and road improvements and a commitment for starting the process of locating a desperately needed trauma facility. This is a home run. Selvena came through for CB14.”