Tishman Speyer grabs bulk of Arker’s mammoth, delayed project

Firm will acquire 10 of 11 sites for Edgemere Commons

Tishman Speyer president Rob Speyer and Edgemere Commons (Getty)
Tishman Speyer president Rob Speyer and Edgemere Commons (Getty)

Affordable housing developer Arker Companies was supposed to break ground on the city’s biggest privately funded affordable project in early 2020.

Now, two years later and without a shovel yet in the ground, office giant Tishman Speyer is stepping in to get things going.

The firm said Friday it would acquire 10 of the 11 building sites that will make up Edgemere Commons, a sprawling 2.2-million-square-foot project in Far Rockaway, Queens, with 2,050 affordable units surrounded by public space, a community center and retail shops.

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Arker, which will keep one planned building in the deal — also the first to begin construction — now expects to break ground in January. In 2019, the firm had estimated the entire project to finish up around 2035, Crain’s reported.

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A spokesperson for Arker attributed the postponed groundbreaking to city-side delays with affordable housing projects, and stressed that the 2020 timeframe was never a “hard deadline” but a date by which the developer “expected to break ground.”

“The city only had so much capacity during the pandemic and prioritized deals that had medical facilities,” the spokesperson said. Edgemere Commons includes a medical space, but it’s not part of the first site slotted for construction.

Real estate attorneys have said that staffing issues at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development over the past year and a half have delayed projects.

HPD did not immediately comment on the origin of pandemic-era delays or whether they slowed Edgemere Commons.

Gary Rodney, head of Tishman’s affordable housing platform TS Communities, launched last year, said in a statement that Edgemere Commons fits the mold for the type of development the firm envisions.

Arker lost one of its company heads, Sol Arker, to cancer in May. The firm’s remaining principals are Sol Arker’s brother Allan Arker, son Alex Arker, and Allan Arker’s son-in-law Daniel Moritz.