EDC Welcomes More Courthouse Proposals
The New York City Economic Development Corporation announced this week that it has opened up the proposal period to allow other developers to submit plans for the former Rockaway Courthouse at Beach 90 Street and Beach Channel Drive.
To date, only developer Uri Kaufman has expressed interest in obtaining the property. He plans to transform it into an ambulatory and surgical facility that will involve a handful of peninsula doctors renting space. Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, whose board green-lighted Kaufman’s proposal earlier this month, says the city rarely performs direct sales to developers and a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) is the normal course of action before handing over a property.
As a result, the RFEI allows a specified period where they accept proposals from other developers before conducting a sale with the buyer of their choice. If no one else submits proposals other than Kaufman, the land will most likely be handed over to him and he will develop the courthouse.
“This is a good thing,” Gaska said. “We are always welcome to other ideas for the courthouse, but thus far Kaufman has been the only one interested in doing something with the property.”
Kaufman, who now operates under the corporate name, The Harmony Group, expressed interest in the courthouse back in 2004, at which time he wanted to use the building as a daycare center and office space. Kaufman specializes in adaptive re-use of historic buildings such as the old Rockaway Courthouse, which has been vacant for more than 40 years. More recently, residents wanted to see a CUNY school on the site, but that fell apart as well. The building was built in 1932 and has approximately 24,000 square feet of property.
The revitalization of the courthouse was one of the Rockaway Task Force’s priorities when they submitted their report late last year. The task force was a collective team of community leaders picked by both Rockaway City Council members to address the needs of the Rockaway Peninsula. “The reactivation of this 80-year-old vacant courthouse, along with the other recommendations from the Rockaway Task Force, will help both the City and the community implement a coordinated strategic plan for economic development for this critical part of Queens. I would like to thank the members of the task force and our local partners in government for sharing our belief in the future of the Rockaways. We look forward to learning what creative New Yorkers have in mind for the former Courthouse in the coming weeks and months,” EDC President Seth W. Pinsky said in a release.
Councilmember Eric Ulrich, whose district encompasses the courthouse, is happy the process is moving forward.
“I am pleased that EDC is moving forward in seeking potential development partners for this underutilized City-owned site. I look forward to seeing the results of this process, and commend the members of the Rockaway Task Force for including this recommendation in their report last year,” Ulrich said.
For those interested in reading the RFEI, visit www.nycedc.com/rfp. The deadline for submissions is April 24.