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Press Release

NYCEDC, Council Member Richards, Local Elected Officials And City Commissioners Announce Roadmap For Action For Downtown Far Rockaway

Aug 19 2016

QUEENS, NY—NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer, Council Member Donovan Richards, other local elected officials, City Planning Commission (DCP) Chairman Carl Weisbrod and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been today announced the Roadmap for Action, an expansive, interagency plan to reestablish Downtown Far Rockaway as the commercial hub of the Rockaway peninsula.

The plan integrates land-use tools with infrastructure investments and improved community services to transform the downtown core into a vibrant, mixed-use center. The Roadmap for Action expands across five strategies to: identify new opportunities for mixed-income housing; improve transportation infrastructure and public space; strengthen commercial corridors, small businesses and connections to jobs; expand upon community services and cultural assets; and utilize land-use tools in the Downtown Far Rockaway area to unlock potential for commercial and residential development.

“Downtown Far Rockaway is a neighborhood that has long deserved significant investment and bold action from the City. The Roadmap for Action will unlock the downtown’s full potential as a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood. Thank you to Council Member Richards and the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, who created a vision for these transformative changes,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer.

“Downtown Far Rockaway was once a vibrant commercial/beachfront business district that attracted shoppers from Rockaway, Nassau County and around the city. But disinvestment, lack of open space, lack of local employment options, lack of infrastructure, and poor pedestrian circulation, created not only a recipe for disaster, but hopelessness in this community,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “But today, we begin the steps in righting these wrongs by paying our moral and economic debt owed to this community. The bounced checks of promises written out to this community in the past are long gone. The historic $91 million investment that the de Blasio administration has made will go a long way in providing economic justice to this community. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glenn, EDC President Maria Torres-Springer, HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, Carl Weisbrod, Commissioner Trottenberg/Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia, SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop and the entire Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group for all of the hard work they have dedicated to this community.”

"Downtown Far Rockaway has a distinctive 'Village' setting that has some unique assets, but also has struggled with attracting investments in housing, businesses and services. I am very pleased that this planning process is incorporating the insightful recommendations of the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group organized by Council Member Donovan Richards as part of a multi-pronged approach to realize the area's full potential as a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use center that serves both residents and visitors to the peninsula. Mandatory Inclusionary Housing will bring permanently affordable housing to the community, and coupled with targeted investments in infrastructure, Downtown Far Rockaway will emerge as a more equitable and diverse neighborhood in which to live, work and play," said City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod.

"Housing New York committed to unlocking opportunities in neighborhoods like Downtown Far Rockaway that for too long were overlooked. Today we lay out an interagency plan to realize the community's vision for a vibrant commercial hub with mixed-income housing, open space, and jobs. I want to thank Councilmember Richards, Assembly Member Goldfeder, Senator Sanders and all our partners in city government for their leadership in creating this Roadmap for the future of Downtown Far Rockaway," said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been.

In November 2015, Council Member Richards convened the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, which is comprised of local elected officials and stakeholders, to develop a vision for the future of the neighborhood. Based on its vision, the Working Group sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio listing recommendations to guide public and private investment in the neighborhood. Mayor de Blasio responded by committing $91 million to revitalizing Downtown Far Rockaway in his 2016 State of the City address.

The Roadmap for Action, which outlines over 25 action items, builds upon this prior work and includes the Administration’s specific plans to realize the community’s vision for a revitalized Downtown Far Rockaway. Highlights of these action items include:

  • Implement improvements to approximately 20 existing storefronts on key retail corridor beginning in summer 2016.
  • Reinforce Mott Avenue as a ‘Village Main Street’ by expanding sidewalks, adding trees and installing lighting.
  • Utilize all tools at the City’s disposal including rezoning and the potential creation of an urban renewal area to activate long underutilized properties and create permanently affordable housing.
  • Strengthen commercial ground floor uses along major corridors to enliven the streetscape.
  • Explore partnerships to attract quality employers to Downtown Far Rockaway and improve access to job opportunities at JFK airport, while increasing access for local residents to occupational trainings for in-demand jobs.
  • Install district-wide amenities such as benches, wayfinding signage, sidewalk plantings, and new storm sewers.
  • Work with community based organizations to develop multi-generational programming for public spaces that serves the diverse interests of the community.

"DOT is thrilled to join EDC and other agencies in this exciting plan to revitalize Downtown Far Rockaway," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "Transportation plays a central role in the success of this road map, as we will among other things, prioritize mass transit and pedestrian uses, create business-friendly street parking and repurpose an underused parking lot -- changes that will all bring long-term benefits to this entire community."

“We are helping the lives of Downtown Far Rockaway residents in all of SBS’s mission-critical areas – neighborhoods, jobseekers and businesses,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “By revitalizing nearly 20 storefronts, connecting 539 residents to jobs through our Rockaway Workforce1 Center, and helping businesses to prepare for future emergencies - we are proud to be driving the Mayor’s ‘Roadmap for Action’ toward success.”

"Downtown Far Rockaway has always been a dynamic, creative community with so much to offer. We cannot wait to see how arts and culture continue to flourish when woven into the next era of the neighborhood's growth," said Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

"The Roadmap for Action is a first-rate blueprint for maximizing Downtown Far Rockaway's potential as a commercial hub," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "Its implementation will revitalize Far Rockaway's downtown core for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Councilmember Richards and all the elected officials, City agencies and members of the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group who worked on the Roadmap should be commended for their excellent work in developing this comprehensive plan."

“In providing the largest single investment in the Downtown Far Rockaway in decades, the Roadmap for Action presents a real path forward for stimulating the Far Rockaway economy. This announcement is only the beginning; we will have to continue to work until all of Rockaway enjoys prosperity. But with partners like Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Richards sharing my commitment to making that a reality, I am reassured we can do just that. I thank Mayor de Blasio, council members, and all of my other partners, and I look forward to working with them towards our goal of an increasingly flourishing Far Rockaway,” said US Representative Gregory W. Meeks.

"It is past time for Downtown Far Rockaway to be revitalized. The Roadmap for Action will help generate meaningful investments in our community. I look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure Rockaway residents are able to remain here and enjoy this economic growth," said State Senator James Sanders, Jr.

"I was born and raised in Far Rockaway and have seen firsthand how blight and disinvestment over the years have limited economic opportunities for our families. The new energy and plan for downtown Far Rockaway will help turn the tide on this trend and pump new life into our beachfront community," said State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "I look forward to working with my colleagues in government and local community leaders to bring positive, lasting change to downtown Far Rockaway and the entire community."

"Libraries, particularly those in our borough, are the social, educational and economic anchors of the communities they serve,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “But our new library, designed by the internationally acclaimed architecture firm Snøhetta, will assume the additional roles as a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Far Rockaway’s growth and a symbol of Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Donovan Richards's commitment to great civic design.”

"We're grateful to the Council Member and the Mayor for revitalizing the downtown Rockaway area. We look forward to working with the city to make this a great project," said Jonathan Gaska, District Manager, Queens Community Board 14.

The comprehensive Roadmap for Action involves efforts from a wide range of City agencies, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC); Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD); Department of Transportation (DOT); Department of Small Business Services (SBS); Department of City Planning (DCP); Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR); Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The Roadmap for Action was largely informed by members of the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, including: Council Member Donovan Richards; Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; New York State Senator James Sanders Jr.; New York State Assembly Member Philip Goldfeder; New York State Assembly Member Michelle R. Titus; Queens Community Board 14; Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation; Far Rockaway Branch Queens Library; Redfern Houses Tenants Association; Rockaway Youth Task Force; First Church of God Church of the Nazarene; Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula; Far Rockaway branch of the NAACP; St. John’s Hospital; and EazyLocks, a local business. Downtown Far Rockaway is the historic commercial core on the Rockaway Peninsula, and is anchored by the Central Avenue, Mott Avenue and Beach 20th Street retail corridors. The Roadmap for Action builds off approximately $90 million in previous public investment in the neighborhood aimed at increasing access to open space, improving the quality of corridors and improving and expanding community services.

The Roadmap for Action can be viewed in full at

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.