Wavecrest Gardens Dilemma:
What's The Story?
Low Income Or Garden Apartments
By John McLoughlin
Within a matter of 15 days, proposed housing for Wavecrest Gardens went from a description of "garden apartments" to "low-income housing," resulting in the latest outcry that the last thing Rockaway needs is more low-income housing.
At a meeting on February 11, 1997 of Community Board 14, a written statement of the District Manager's Report said "due to changes in the planning process the owners of Wavecrest Gardens once again have requested a letter of support from the community board to build 122 garden apartments." This statement gave the impression to many who attended the meeting that night, as well as members of the community board, that the housing would be for moderate-income tenants.
In a letter dated February 26, 1997, Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of Community Board 14, wrote to Commissioner Joseph Lynch of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and said, "These much needed apartments would provide homes for our large senior and working poor population," and expressed support for the "Goldfarb Properties to build 122 low and moderate income apartments under the Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Trust Fund Program."
And a recent deposition by Philip Goldfarb, owner of Wavecrest Gardens, states, "All of the units in the building are to be dedicated to low-income tenants."
Wavecrest Gardens, which is located in the Beach 20s along Seagirt boulevard, presently has 1,657 units with a shopping center on site. The 122 units would consist of construction of a six floor building, with 86 one bedroom units and 36 two bedroom units.
The plan also calls for Margert Community Corporation of Far Rockaway, a not-for-profit community based housing organization, to acquire the "low-income portion" of the project. Joseph Barden, executive director of Margert, plans to purchase the additional unit "at a cost equal to or below the minimum amount permitted pursuant to the code for purposes of a 'qualified contractor'."
Gaska said he could not recall how the original plans were presented to the community board, but said the Goldfarbs "have an excellent reputation in the community." Gaska called the Goldfarbs "good neighbors" and stated that the project would "enhance adjacent surroundings." But, Gaska did say that since this approval, the community board "will not approve such housing" in the future.
Calls to Goldfarb Properties were not returned press time Wednesday.
Barden of Margret Community Corporation said their organization will have a "small ownership portion" of the building, which Barden said is "targeted for low wage earners." Margret will be involved with application assistance and recertification of income. Barden said that such housing for low-income tenants is a "stepping stone to get out of the crap they're living in now," and continued by saying Margret will attempt to improve the quality of life with programs such as first time home buyers club.
Some members of the community questioned whether local elected officials were aware of the true goals of the plan. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, in a letter dated March, 1997, said "there is a severe shortage of affordable housing for moderate-income families," but Congressman Gregory Meeks refers to the same project as providing housing for "Rockaway residents on Public and Housing Assistance payments."
Meeks and Pheffer did not return calls as of press time.