2004-05-28 / Community

Bloomberg Cuts Ribbon For Arverne By The Sea

Bloomberg Cuts Ribbon For Arverne By The Sea

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg celebrated the grand opening of Arverne by the Sea, New York’s newest oceanfront community in Rockaway on Tuesday, under chilly and foggy skies, vindicating those in the community who believed that something would be built on the long-vacant urban renewal site.

When completed, Arverne by the Sea will include 2,300 residential units in a mix of one- and two-family homes, mid-rise rental-apartment buildings and condominiums, over 250,000 square feet of retail space, a YMCA, school, transportation center, and ten acres of parkland. Benjamin-Beechwood, LLC, the development team, paid the City $8.3 million for the land and expects to spend another $100 million on infrastructure, community facilities and amenities. Purchase prices for the first 27 homes being celebrated today ranged from $395,000 to $495,000. They were sold through a lottery that gives preference to Queens District 14 residents. Eight buyers currently reside in Queens Community District 14; five, in other parts of Queens; eight, in other boroughs; and six, in the metropolitan area. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan, Benjamin-Beechwood, LLC, community and business leaders, and buyers of new two-family homes along Shorefront Parkway and Beach 73rd Street joined the Mayor for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"Today ends 40 years of dashed hopes and deferred dreams for the Arverne community, and it opens a bright new chapter in the future of the Rockaways as we see the first fruits of a successful collaboration among government, the private sector, and the residents of the Rockaways," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These new homes in Arverne, and plans for thousands more, constitute a major element of our Administration’s $3 billion housing plan initiative to finance the construction or rehabilitation of 65,000 units of affordable housing in all five boroughs by 2008, which will mean homes for almost 200,000 New Yorkers. We welcome and congratulate the first homebuyers to their new beachfront homes at Arverne by the Sea."

"Today we see the future of Rockaway," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "After a generation of hopes and promises, these homes are proof that the renaissance of the Rockaways has finally begun. It will continue to flourish with thousands of new homes, recreational and retail facilities and a great natural resource – the beloved beaches of Rockaway. Arverne by the Sea provides attractive quality housing with the Atlantic Ocean for a front porch."

As part of the second phase of construction, another 121 two-family homes are already underway. HPD expects to issue a Request for Proposals for the redevelopment of the 47-acre East End section of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area at the end of the year, which will add up to 1,500 units of mixed-income housing and approximately 600,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. An additional 200 housing units are planned for Water’s Edge, bringing the total of new City-sponsored homes in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area to up to 4,010.

During the first half of the twentieth century, Rockaway was an affluent beach resort, but through the 1950’s the area declined until 308 acres along the shoreline were designated an Urban Renewal Area in 1964 and eventually cleared by city-sponsored demolition. After a number of unsatisfactory attempts to redevelop the acreage, in 1998 HPD, the Queens Borough President and Community Board 14 formed the Arverne Working Committee and produced a "concept plan" that became the basis for a Request for Proposal. Benjamin-Beechwood, LLC, a joint venture between two experienced builder/developers, Benjamin Development Co. and the Beechwood Organization, was designated by HPD in 2000 as the developer through the competitive RFP process.

"This project is about the rebirth of a community with very special natural resources," said The Benjamin Organization President Alvin Benjamin. "For me, it is also a very personal experience as it is a homecoming to a place where I spent summers as a child. We are very proud of the dynamic leadership of Mayor Bloomberg. His vision has been a very important part of the success of this project."

"We also thank the award wining firm of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, the master planners and design architects of this beautiful community and HPD for their guidance," said Les Lerner of The Beechwood Organization. "With careful planning and community participation, Arverne by the Sea is now the premier residential housing community in New York City."

Many of the buyers from outside Queens Community Board 14 have spent time on the Rockaways and its waterfront. Wanda Jones Robinson who escorted the Mayor on a tour of her new home, remembers, "My husband and I taught both our sons how to ride their two-wheelers on that boardwalk. We detached the training wheels almost directly across the street from where we’ll be living."


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