Mayor Adams announced the completion of more than 200 affordable apartments in Far Rockaway on Thursday — the culmination of almost a decade of planning and politicking aimed at improving what’s historically been one of the city’s most ignored neighborhoods.
The most recent redevelopment in the area’s downtown section — which now includes a modern apartment building replete with solar panels, a tree-lined plaza and sewer drains designed to better absorb storm waters — cost the city about $234 million and was completed four years ahead of schedule.
“We believe this is a symbol of what we can do when we come together,” said Adams, who was flanked by dozens of elected officials and local leaders. “Deal with resiliency, deal with homelessness, deal with housing, dealing with having our young people have a great start in their future. Beautiful apartments, beautiful environment — and start to rebuild communities in a real way.”
The new building, dubbed Beach 21st, includes 28,000 square feet of commercial and community space, a roof garden and 224 affordable apartments — 23 of which come with on-site services reserved for previously homeless tenants.
While announcing the new amenities — which the city began work on during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration — Adams stood beside Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who began pushing for the redevelopment nearly ten years ago when he was a City Councilman.
Richards, who grew up just blocks from the new apartment building, recalled the landscape of his childhood being filled with blighted buildings, including a long-vacant, pigeon-filled mall — and scant attention from City Hall. That, he said, began to change during the early days of de Blasio’s administration when he took city officials on a tour of the area, and the changes really picked up steam when the city rezoned the neighborhood in 2017.
“Five years ago — none of this was here,” Richards said, pointing to other newly constructed buildings just blocks away. “There was deliberate disinvestment. Quite frankly, it was racism. There’s no other way to put it — the majority of people who lived in this community were Black and brown. And there were no investments coming down here.
“This is beyond a dream come true,” he continued. “I get really emotional talking about it because I know we’re leaving this place better for future generations. We lost people because of the blight in this neighborhood.”