Pataki Eyes Takeover of Far Rock Shopping Center
Pataki Eyes Takeover of
Far Rock Shopping Center
By Howard Schwach
Governor George Pataki may soon take a step to revitalize the Far Rockaway shopping area by directing the state's Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to condemn the Far Rockaway Shopping Center on Central and Mott Avenue, a long-depressed and decaying facility now owned by the Stark family.
"The ESDC is now looking at the Request For Proposals (RFP) that were submitted for the property," Curtis Archer, the executive director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) told The Wave. "If those proposals look good, and we think that they do, then the governor will give his permission to condemn and develop the land."
"The Governor will not allow the condemnation without a viable plan," he added.
The once-flourishing shopping center, which anchored the Far Rockaway shopping area for many years, has fallen into disuse and disrepair over the past fifteen years.
The property is owned by a brother and sister named Stark, and neither would allow developers to come in and revitalize the center. Many anchor stores, such as Martian Paints, have left over the years.
Last year, a team of Columbia University urban planners were sent in by the state to survey the center and to detail its viability.
That study predicted good things for the center and for Far Rockaway if it were redeveloped.
"The study done by the Columbia people was outstanding," says Jon Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14. "It clearly made the point that the center would do well if it were redeveloped with shops and a movie theater, with lots of parking and an anchor tenant."
Gaska says that the plans call for a theater, retail shops and parking, plus a covered esplanade that would connect the center to both the subway and to the Long Island Railroad Station on Nameoke Street.
"This is really good news for Rockaway," Gaska says. "It is an important part of the commercial revitalization of the peninsula that will include the commercial component of Arverne By The Sea."
A developer for the property is expected to be chosen by late October. Then, the plans will go to the Governor. It is hoped that he would make a decision shortly thereafter to condemn the property and allow the redevelopment plan be carried out.