Ask Joe Addabbo
On Tuesday evening, the Community Board approved the re-zoning plan for the peninsula, which includes the proposed upzoning of the beach blocks of Beach 115 thru 117 Street to an R7A. The next step in the ULURP process is to secure approval from our borough president, Helen Marshall on Thursday, May 22 at 10:30 at Queens Borough Hall. While the community board and the borough president's approval are only advisory, the real power lies with the City Council and Joe Addabbo. These are the two who will say "yes" or "no" to the plan.
There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. Does Beach 116 Street need improvement? The east side of the beach block certainly does and while the operating hotels are generally maintained, the real blight on the block is the vacant buildings that have been warehoused by speculators. Pretty soon, they will get a very lucrative payday from developers.
And what will be developed for the area? Promises of a thriving commercial mainfloor with 8-10 story buildings above stretching from the beach blocks of Beach 115 Street through Beach 117 Street.
And, who will buy/rent these condos/ apartments? Not many people who work in Manhattan because the transportation to and from the city takes too long. The prototype for this development, the Ocean Grande, had to auction off 25% of its units to become fully sold even though its sales office was operating at the height of the housing boom. The condo developments at Beach 124 and 125 Streets on Rockaway Beach Boulevard have yet to be sold or occupied. Completed buildings throughout the area are empty. So where is the hot demand for more housing here in the Rockaways? The charm of Rockaway is its large open spaces with lots of light and fresh air.
As far as the story in last week's Wave on the Lawrence Hotel, it mentions that the owner is thinking of reopening the building as a 38 unit SRO. This was confirmed by Jonathan Gaska at the community board meeting. The Lawrence Hotel has 32 open DOB and ECB violations. It also has a stop work order on it and one of the violations states that the hotel cannot be reopened until a new C of O has been obtained because it's been vacant since 4/28/03. Mr. Gaska stated that the owner has applied for permits. Well, according to city documents available thru its website, the only permit issued for the hotel is from January of 2007 for roof work. In order to do any kind of work on the building, a certificate of non-harassment is needed. It would be interesting to know if the owner has obtained a certificate of non-harassment, since it takes the ordinary SRO owner 8-12 months to get one. It would also be interesting to see how quickly the other SRO/hotel owners in the recommended R7A zone get-if they gettheir certificates of non-harassment. Some of their former tenants may not have been as happy as they thought.
The City is adamant about having 116th Street rezoned R7A. Why? Good question. You might want to ask Joe Addabbo and the City Council.