2003-02-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Developing Beach 116 Street

Developing Beach 116 Street

The health of Rockaway’s three major shopping areas are critical to the peninsula’s fiscal survival. The Far Rockaway shopping area, which centers on Beach 20 Street (Central Avenue) has seen an upswing and may soon see a major change as the state grids itself to take over the underutilized Far Rockaway Shopping Center. We understand that the obdurate owners, the Stark family has been told that they now have two options: sell the center to a developer or face a state takeover. That is good news. The Beach 129 Street shopping area, barely one block long, has some new stores and continues to do the business that it can do without adequate parking. Perhaps the city will one day utilize a abandoned residential property on the street to build a parking lot. The street needs that amenity if it is to grow. The shopping area that centers on Beach 116 Street and meanders off to Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive is another story. Development on that street has always been haphazard at best, with restaurants and shops floating in and out of the area on the winds of financial whim. We understand that two new facilities are planned for the street that could bring major changes. The first is a residential development of six-story townhouses on the parking lot now utilized by the Beach Club right on the boardwalk. The other is a planned storage facility housed in what was, in its last incarnation, the Seaport Restaurant. Both of these facilities can be built "as of right," because the zoning is right for the planned development. What we question is whether these amenities are right for the premier shopping street in the area. We urge the Chamber of Commerce and the community board to provide detailed information on these two new projects so that the community can understand what it is getting, and we further urge those organizations to come up with a coherent development plan for the street so that this haphazard development might end.

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