2012-10-12 / Top Stories

NYCHA To Sell Unused Project Space

By Howard Schwach


Some of the Rockaway public housing projects might be the target for middle-class housing if the city has its way. Some of the Rockaway public housing projects might be the target for middle-class housing if the city has its way. If the city’s Housing Authority has its way, residents of the public housing complexes that dot Rockaway may soon have less of the few amenities that they enjoy, things such as green space, parks and parking lots.

The cash-starved city agency plans to make up some of its budget deficit by selling off chunks of its open space to developers for market rate housing and commercial development.

Agency officials say that the development plan will not necessitate the removal of one present tenant, nor will it require the demolition of any of the buildings.

Open space will simply be transformed into usable (and lucrative) space.

Newly-minted New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) chairman John Rhea said that lots of the money generated by the development plan would be plowed back into the housing projects as repairs and upgrades.

“This is a landmark in the evolution of the NYCHA,” Rhea said recently. “A decade ago, it wouldn’t have been possible, because developers would have considered our sites off-limits.”

While Rhea said that Manhattan would be the “most likely” place to begin the project, insiders say that land in Rockaway, with its miles of beachfront, might well be the first target of the plan.

One Rockaway resident who formerly lived in a city housing project and who asked not to be identified scoffed at the plan. “People are constantly trying to move out of the projects. Why would somebody with middle class money want to move into the projects, even for a new apartment,” she asked.

“With all the guns and drugs in the projects, they’re not going to attract many new residents who don’t have to live there.” Rhea says that he expects the plan to begin paying dividends before the end of 2013.

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