Opinion

A new day for downtown Far Rockaway

By Alicia Glen and Donovan Richards |  

September 6, 2017 |  

An artist's rendering of downtown Far Rockaway.

From the moment New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, he made a clear commitment to invest in neighborhoods that had long been left behind. The administration has made good on that pledge by building affordable housing units, upgrading infrastructure, improving commercial corridors and collaborating with local leaders to develop major neighborhood plans.

This week, the City Council is poised to make good on this commitment in downtown Far Rockaway by passing the downtown Far Rockaway revitalization plan, the de Blasio administration’s second neighborhood rezoning, along with East New York.

This project started from the ground up. After two years of hearing from community members and mapping out their vision, we have developed a historic plan to bring change to downtown Far Rockaway. The plan is the neighborhood’s first rezoning since 1961 and will bring $288 million of investment to the area. While previous development plans for parts of downtown Far Rockaway have failed, we are using every tool at the city’s disposal to finally make the community’s vision a reality.

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We are leveraging bold land use tools to take back long-underutilized properties and encourage mixed-use development – finally bringing a variety of restaurants, jobs, housing, commercial and community facilities and open space to the center of the neighborhood.

While this is a historic rezoning for the neighborhood, we’re not just drawing lines on a map. We’re coupling land use tools with on-the-ground investments informed by the wants and needs of the community.

Our plan will create 3,000 housing units – more than 1,000 of them affordable – 250,000 square feet of commercial space to attract new businesses and jobs, the neighborhood’s first new library since 1976, and its first new park since 1960.

The plan’s combined $288 million investment will also bring improved streets, new plazas and much-needed sewer systems; it will ensure housing developed on city-owned land is 100 percent affordable; it will pilot an extended shuttle to the New York City Ferry; it will expand small business services in downtown Far Rockaway.

This is the kind of change that residents have been calling for, the kind of change that is driven by the community. The city’s investments will create job opportunities, affordable housing options, space for children to play and learn and a better quality of life.

By partnering with the community and taking unprecedented action to turn things around, downtown Far Rockaway is an example of a neighborhood plan done right. Promises kept, game-changing investments, a focus on real affordability and a sincere collaborative effort with the community from start to finish.

Today is a new day for downtown Far Rockaway.

Alicia Glen is New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development. Donovan Richards represents the 31st City Council District. 

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