2001-12-08 / Editorial/Opinion

It Seems To Us, We’ve Heard This Song Before

It Seems To Us, We’ve Heard This Song Before

The mayor has made his decision and the die is cast once again for the future of Rockaway. At a press conference on Monday, to which nobody in Rockaway was invited, the mayor and his Department Of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) gave about 100 acres of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, arguably the last large piece of undeveloped beachfront property in the world, to a consortium of Beechwood Associates and the Benjamin Companies to develop the western portion of the urban renewal area. While the density of the homes has yet to be set by the developers, Community Board 14 and HPD, the plan calls for 2,300 middle-income residential units, a mix of one and two-family homes and a "few" mid-rise (three to four story) buildings. The housing would be targeted to middle class families, those who earn in the range of $65 to $75 thousand a year. The project also includes commercial and retail space, a community recreation center (that would include a pool as well as playing fields) and a K-8 charter school for up to 800 students. This is good news for Rockaway. It appears to be just what the Community Board asked for and just what the community needs. The problem is, we have heard this song before. We’ve heard the "good news" that would revitalize Rockaway at least several times. First, it was Oceanview, with its grandiose high rises, parks and several schools. Then it was a few lesser projects. Then came Technodome. We can only hope that this project is for real. Briarwood, a company that bid on the land and lost, has already proven that decent middle class housing in Rockaway will sell. We hope that Beechwood-Benjamin will take that lesson to heart and go ahead with the project. Despite what the naysayer’s think, we believe that Rockaway can be revitalized. We believe that revitalization has already begun. The urban renewal area is critical to that revitalization. We hope that, 20 years from now, we will not be singing a similar song, trying to remember the name of those companies who promised that great project for Arverne in 2002.

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