Return To Glory?
From birth in 1961 until I left for college in 1980, I lived in the
Rockaways. Some of my family still lives there. While I have lived in
Houston, Texas since 1982, my heart will always belong to the Rockaway
I receive the Wave by mail and read it on the internet. One of the things
that regularly amazes and disappoints me is the way that redevelopment plans for the Rockaways are floated, then abandoned, one after the other, like jets waiting to take off from JFK Airport. A true story from my present neck of the woods might inspire someone to take the steps to return the Rockaways to its past glory once again.
About two miles from my house was a retail mall called "Meyerland." In the early 1990's, 90-percent of the stores in Meyerland were closed, and
those that remained dealt in what could most kindly be referred to as schlock merchandise. Meyerland had been a thriving shopping center from the 1940's through the early 1970's, but fell into decay around the time of the oil shortages in the mid-1970's. Many of the stores were tied up in bankruptcy, as were the owners of the real estate itself. For years, many developers and community leaders floated trial ideas for redevelopment of Meyerland. One man, a real estate developer named Ed Wulfe, turned those ideas into reality. Through dogged self-determination, Mr. Wulfe cleared miles of red tape and overcame strong political opposition from neighborhood groups who, for their own purposes, preferred Meyerland to remain shuttered. The result? Today, Meyerland is a vibrant shopping mall. Its old facade was torn down
and more modern, upscale facilities took its place. The stores are virtually
100-percent leased. The parking lots are full of shoppers who are treated to a nice mix of retail, restaurant, and chain store shopping. The mall contributes millions in real estate and sales taxes, and has improved property values in the area dramatically.
I would love to hear about that kind of renaissance in the Rockaways. Given its proximity to Manhattan, its miles and miles of beautiful beaches, its cooling seabreezes during otherwise sweltering summers, and its long, rich history as a playground just miles from the Big City, the Rockaways deserve more than the fate that it has presently been dealt. My fervent hope is that a person or people of vision, who see the truly great potential that the Rockaways has to offer, will step forward and through dogged determination, help that gorgeous strip of sand and soil regain its once and future glory.