City Council land use committee passes Far Rockaway rezoning

Plan would bring more than 3,000 resi units to the Queens neighborhood

Far Rockaway renderings (Credit: EDC)
Far Rockaway renderings (Credit: EDC)

The City Council’s land use committee unanimously approved a rezoning of Far Rockaway on Tuesday, clearing the way for a full Council vote on the plan to transform 23 blocks of the Queens neighborhood.

The subcommittee on zoning and franchises had approved the plan on Monday, and it now heads to a full Council vote expected to take place in the next few weeks.

The Far Rockaway rezoning plan covers 23 blocks and would bring more than 3,000 residential units to the neighborhood, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

All property owned by the city will contain 100 percent affordable housing, and officials will also explore the possibility of installing a new ferry landing east of 108th Street and pilot a new shuttle service to the ferry for residents of downtown Far Rockaway.

The rezoning will be $288 million overall and will include $126 million from the city, $77 million of which will be focused on reconstructing areas in downtown Far Rockaway. The rest of the money will come from private organizations and the federal government. Money will go toward funding the 101st Police Precinct, upgrading sewer infrastructure and setting up real-time displays for bus arrivals.

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This is the first rezoning to hit Far Rockaway since 1961, and the EDC estimates that, in addition to the more than 3,000 new residential units, it will also create approximately 250,000 square feet of commercial space, 86,000 square feet of community space and 30,000 square feet of open space. The plan is based on recommendations from a group of local stakeholders that Council member Donovan Richards convened in 2015 as the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group.

The rezoning is part of Housing New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, and it would be the first such rezoning to pass the City Council since East New York in 2016 if approved.

The City Council passed a rezoning of Midtown East on Aug. 9, which could lead to 6.5 million square feet of new office space in the neighborhood.

Affordable housing developer MDG Design + Construction obtained a $109 million, 99-year lease for a city-owned complex in Far Rockaway in January,  and a controversial condominium in the neighborhood at 120 Beach 26th Street sold last April for nearly $28 million.

EDC head James Patchett was happy with the rezoning’s progress, saying in a statement, “Through this plan, Downtown Far Rockaway is finally getting the investment it deserves, with new jobs and mixed-income housing, open space and community facilities.”