Courtesy of Matthew Lapiska
City Councilman Donovan Richards (c.) advocated for years to have Downtown Far Rockaway revitalized and now the $139 million project is about to begin.

Downtown Far Rockaway will get its long awaited extreme makeover.

City officials, elected leaders and community members joined together to break ground on a $139 million project that will transform and revitalize a 25 block area of the neighborhood which has not seen any large infrastructure investments in decades.

“This historic $139 million investment in Downtown Far Rockaway’s infrastructure is a critical component for the future success of our community,” Councilman Donovan Richards said.

“These long overdue investment will bring new streetscapes, plaza space, green infrastructure and improved stormwater drainage that will ensure a more pedestrian friendly Far Rockaway that can better manage future storms while also beautifying the commercial corridors and the transportation hub of the peninsula,” Richards continued.

Construction on the project gets underway next week and is scheduled to take three years to complete. The neighborhood had been rezoned to allow for more housing, increased economic opportunity and better transportation options.

“Today is an exciting day. Being born and raised in Far Rockaway, I can tell you this is an area in desperate need of revitalization,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “After years of persistent advocacy and work from community stakeholders we are finally getting the investment we so desperately need and deserve.”

The work will be centered around the local business district and transportation hub at Mott and Central avenues, where the new library is already under construction. The project was designed and phased to closely align with more than 2,000 affordable housing units under construction and planned over several development.

“This plan will help Downtown Far Rockaway thrive by addressing so many of the issues that have held the community back,” state Senator James Sanders Jr. said. “The time for tackling the crumbling roadways and persistent flooding is long overdue, but thanks to the collective efforts of my colleagues in government and numerous city agencies, we are going to see some progress. Rockaway has so much potential and now with new infrastructure, pedestrian-friendly spaces, gardens and greenery, and improved storm drainage, this community will have the opportunity to shine like the jewel of Queens that it is.”

Streets throughout the downtown area will be completely rebuilt and the landscape will be further transformed with new green infrastructure including rain gardens to help absorb stormwater and other measures to minimize flooding from Jamaica Bay.

“This $139 million investment by the city isn’t just an investment in new sidewalks, streets, sewer pipes and other infrastructure, it is an investment in the people and the community of Far Rockaway,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. said. “After slowly declining for decades, Downtown Far Rockaway will once again be a thriving and bustling area for everyone to enjoy.”

The Department of Design and Construction is managing the project and it has assigned two community liaisons who will work on-site to keep residents and business owners apprised of construction progress, coordinate street closures and utility shut off and arrange special requests such as deliveries to local homes and businesses.

“This very large project is going to have a transformational effect on Far Rockaway, bringing better streets and better infrastructure to a community that could really benefit from this type of investment,” DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo said. “A project of this scale would normally take seven years to complete, but we’re planning to finish it in three years.”

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