Much like with East New York before it, City Planning has voted to approve a Far Rockaway rezoning and revitalization initiative advanced by the New York City Department of Economic Development. The proposal is a part of Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to build and preserve 210,000 units of affordable housing by 2020, and is also a response to economic blight in the area.
City Planning’s approval—which, City Limits notes, was unanimous—represents another rung climbed in the ladder to rezoning. The City Council still needs to be approve the measure before it can be put to action.
The $91 million revitalization effort will be more holistic than just rezoning, and will likely include the creation of permanently affordable housing, along with the creation of an urban renewal area that would activate underutilized properties; the creation of programming for public spaces in conjunction with community groups; making improvements to 20 existing storefronts in retail corridors on Central and Mott avenues and Beach 20th Street; and making area-wide improvements like installing new benches, sidewalk planting, street signs, and new storm sewers.
The rezoning initiative has been met with less negative feedback than similar efforts in East New York, East Harlem, and Inwood, City Limits notes. Queens borough president Melinda Katz and Queens Community Board 14, in which Far Rockaway falls, both approved the rezoning, but with some caveats. By comparison, Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and East New York’s community board both disapproved of the city’s initial rezoning and revitalization plan for East New York.
The city released a Final Environmental Impact Statement, one of the advanced process in the city’s land use review procedure, for Far Rockaway on June 29. The statement provides transparency into the effects and suggested fixes for the rezoning and revitalization, among them a shortage of childcare seats. The city has no plans to bring a care facility to the targeted region, but says it will encourage developers to create childcare facilities in their developments.
The proposal will appear in front of the City Council subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises on July 27, and in front of the full City Council at a later date.