Edgemere Commons Developers Address Remaining Concerns at Council Hearing

Western Beef Supermarket Rendering Image Credit: City Planning

Council Member Richards makes sure developers keep promises. On October 3, 2019, City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a public hearing on Rockaway Limited Partnership’s application to redevelop the former Peninsula Hospital site into “Edgemere Commons.” The proposed development is located in Far Rockaway Queens, north of Rockaway Beach Boulevard, south of Beach Channel Drive east of Beach 53rd Street and west of Beach 50th Street.

The application proposes an 11-building, mixed-use residential development varying from eight to nineteen stories, with the tallest buildings near the center of the development. The proposed plan includes 2,200 units mixed-income housing for seniors and middle-income families, 150,000 square feet of commercial, community and medical space and nearly 150,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

To the north and west of the site are seven to nine-story NYCHA Ocean Bay Apartments. To the south of the site is the elevated subway track, with the beach just beyond it. To the east are one- to two-family low rise buildings.

The application itself requests zoning map changes for larger commercial and residential uses, zoning text changes to build affordable housing with a floor area bonus, a designation to build a health club and a Large Scale General Development permit to change the size, height and shape of the buildings. On September 25, 2019, City Planning unanimously approved this application. To read in further detail about the application’s particulars and amenities, read Cityland’s prior coverage here.

At the City Council public hearing, Jaclyn Scarinci of Akerman LLP gave an overview of the project, detailing the number and breakdown of residential units. She also stated that the Western Beef Supermarket is the anchor tenant and will be built in phase one. Daniel Moritz, the developer and principal of Arker companies spoke to the various community benefits and the extents of community outreach. Ariel Aufgang, the architect, explained the site plan, drawing attention to the use of open space, the elevation, and the storm and flood resiliency planning. He also discussed the supermarket’s importance and how the site plan encourages social interaction.  The team later built on this response in the context of the site’s commercial uses. They stated that they do not currently have another anchor tenant but believe the supermarket’s existence will help attract additional tenants. The applicants stated that they believe their food and restaurant theme will be attractive to the local community.

Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents the district, asked a slew of questions ranging from the projects phasing, the construction plans, childcare and schooling, healthcare commitments and renewable energy sources. The team responded by pointing to their concerted efforts and collaboration with the relevant agencies and interest groups. The following are a few of the other key issues discussed by the council member and the applicants.

Commercial Corridor Rendering Image Credit: City Planning

Council Member Richards asked about the area median income levels for the development. The team stated that the 11 buildings with conform with the various Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) programs available to them. The first four buildings will be under the HPD’s Extremely Low & Low-Income Affordability (“ELLA”) Program. Buildings C1 and D1 will be in the 80 percent ELLA program. Building C2 will take part in HPD’s Mix & Match Program. Buildings D2 and F1 will be senior housing buildings under HPD’s Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program.

Council Member Richards asked about the development’s financing, recognizing the difficulty the question. The applicants stated that it was not finalized, and such commitments usually happen after the conclusion of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Richards asked about the commitment to jobs and 50 percent local hiring. The applicants cited their past-success working in Council Member Richard’s district, then made a commitment to work with multiple organizations to make sure good jobs go to local residents.

Council Member Richards later asked the applicants about potential issues with the density of the development. Specifically, he was concerned about providing 2,200 units with serviceable transportation. The applicants stated that the Department of Transportation reviewed their construction and transportation plan and that they will continue to engage with the Department of Transportation throughout the process. They stated it will be a “constant collaborative relationship.”

Council Member Richards closed his questioning with a statement. He commended the applicants for keeping all their promises on an earlier development in the district, and wants them to do the same with this project. He also said he wants to “flush out” the community centers, the job opportunities and schools facets of the application. He stated “we want more concrete investments before we sign our name onto this project…a project that will affect Edgemere for centuries.”  He ended by saying he is “Happy to see something is finally happening in this community, but we want to make sure that it is responsible development.”

The public comment was largely positive. Various local religious parishioners expressed excitement at the opportunity for mixed-use housing and the addition of a supermarket. Due to development’s the scale and expected duration (ten years), local union construction workers and union iron workers made it clear that they want the developers to make a commitment to safety.

The developers hope to break ground some time in 2020. The Subcommittee will vote on this application on a later date.

UPDATE: On November 14, 2019, the City Council approved the application with modifications.


By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)



2 thoughts on “Edgemere Commons Developers Address Remaining Concerns at Council Hearing

  1. Love how its biased and a one sided article, not expressing the concerns of residents with regards to density, lack of two income units, schools, jobs, health care facilities, ect

    • We have done multiple articles on this issue, and have addressed those issues. At this stage we factually chronicled what happened at the Council and the issues that came up. We pride ourselves on being objective and presenting all sides to our readers.

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