There are whispers of eminent domain in Far Rockaway, Queens so of course we are going to blog about it…
It all has to do with rezoning and reshaping the downtown area of Far Rockaway. Let’s face it — some of us might have gone to the area to check out the beach, but downtown — not so much.
On September 7th, the City Council approved a $300 million plan to rezone downtown Far Rockaway, Queens. The ambitious plan is the second of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s neighborhood rezonings that have undergone the process of public review. We make note of the proposed rezoning of East New York, which was highly controversial due to fears of gentrification. It seems like those fears are not present in Far Rockaway. The City Council’s zoning subcommittee went through the public review with flying colors and even with unanimous votes.
According to The Commercial Observer, $288 million worth of investment will be made, including $128 million in city funding, into a long-blighted stretch of Far Rockaway. The city estimates that the new land use rules will pave the way for 3,100 new apartments, 165,000 square feet of retail and 81,000 square feet of community space in the 23-block rezoning area.
In addition, several neglected properties around the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue subway station will be acquired for $91 million. The biggest piece of the puzzle is the Far Rockaway shopping center. Never heard of it? That’s because more than a dozen storefronts have stood empty for decades. The plan is for the city to acquire the shopping center and some other parcels nearby. Once that happens 1,700 apartments are planned for the site and 100% of them will be affordable.
Here’s the part about eminent domain… The city might take control of a 150,000-square-foot shopping mall property, which is currently owned an by estate, through eminent domain.
The real story is that an affordable housing developer, such as Phipps Houses, will be able to strike a deal. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, eminent domain will only be used as a last resort. But all government agencies say that…
The only other way this can play out is if a private developer buys up the lots. That most likely means that only 50 percent of the planned housing will be affordable. In this case, the Mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program would require that developers to allocate at least a quarter of all new apartments as below-market rentals in the seven to eight story buildings.
It’s nice to hear that the city’s plan to revamp the neighborhood with such amenities as a new park, a new 30,000-square-foot public plaza, a shuttle bus from downtown to the Rockaway ferry landing at Beach 108th Street, upgrades to sewer infrastructure and sidewalks and a new public library at the corner of Mott and Central Avenues.
According to the experts, this is what Far Rockaway needs to energize the local real estate market. Let’s face it, the area has been economically depressed for decades. Those investors and developers who have been in Brooklyn and the Bronx will now be looking to Far Rockaway for opportunities.
Until now there have been very few developers taking the plunge, and most likely it will take several more years before the area sees the type of activity expected.
The potential for a renewed downtown Far Rockaway is great, especially with all important commuter options. We’ll just have to wait and see!