2005-04-29 / Front Page

Many Rockaway Landmarks To Go

By Howard Schwach

By late summer or early fall, several long-time Rockaway landmarks will be demolished to make way for a new community center, stores and homes.

“The judge has ruled that they have to leave,” says Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, speaking of such community icons as Loeb and Mayer Meats, Lowitt Laboratories and the Claddagh INN. “They have been condemned and the eviction process has begun.”

All of the demolition is necessary for the development of Arverne By The Sea, the large-scale development that will eventually bring 2,300 homes, condominiums and stores, as well as a new school and a community center.

“Construction of amenities such as the community center and the stores have to be started before the next phase of Arverne By The Sea can begin,” Gaska said. “Things are moving along.”

Gaska added that all of those commercial firms in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area have known for years that this day would come and that they would have to move.

There has been some criticism of moving the Claddagh INN, once one of the premier food banks in Rockaway, to make may for a community center.

Gaska, however, sees no problem.

“The facility is just a shell of what it once was,” Gaska says.

The Claddagh Inn and its director, Tony Job, have been under fire in recent years, both from the police and from critics in the community who charged that he was selling both food and clothing.

The International Nutrition Network (INN) cut its ties with Job’s facility more than two years ago.

The new community center, which will serve the entire Rockaway community and will be run by the Cross Island YMCA, will be built north of Rockaway Beach Boulevard where the Claddagh Inn now stands.

Stores and restaurants will be sited on the north side of the boulevard, from Beach 73 Street to Beach 69 Street.

New homes will replace the site where the former Lowitt Labs now stands.The remaining properties still on the site will be taken later.

Gaska says that the process is taking longer than planned not because of the developers of Arverne By The Sea, but because the city delayed in taking possession of the land.

He expects that the owners of the condemned land will be paid something now, including moving expenses and then will have to go to court for a decision on how much the land is worth.

The first residents of Arverne By The Sea took possession of their homes recently. Those houses are clustered between Beach 73 and Beach 74 Street nearby Shore Front Parkway.

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