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Bayswater Ocean Crest project approved after community feedback

Aug. 9, 2023 By John Schilling

The City Council voted to approve the previously proposed Ocean Crest development project in the Bayswater section of Far Rockaway on Aug. 3 after weeks of delays and community feedback.

Originally set to include over 100 affordable housing rental units, Ocean Crest will now instead be made up of 89 “affordable” units as a home-ownership project. This quick change came after NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, who represents the Bayswater community in District 31, expressed concerns about the project’s original proposal and its lack of home ownership opportunities.

The site for the project, a parking lot located across from Bayswater Park on Bay 32nd Street between Ocean Crest Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive, required an upzoning from R4-1 to R6A in order to be built. This was met with mixed reactions from the Rockaway locals with some expressing concerns about overdevelopment in the area and others seeing it as a potential opportunity to house seniors.

After further delays and subsequent discussions, the revised Ocean Crest project proposal was unanimously approved by both the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and Committee on Land Use before being passed 44 to one before the entire council.

NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers announces the approval of the Ocean Crest project before the full council on Thursday, Aug. 3.Photo by Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit

Brooks-Powers announced the project’s approval on Aug. 3, adding that Ocean Crest will still include 35% Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise utilization and participation.

“So many of these New Yorkers, low-income New Yorkers and New Yorkers of color are being priced out of the city,” Brooks-Powers said during the Aug. 3 Council meeting. “Legislation like this and projects like Ocean Crest will help ensure more of these New Yorkers have the ability to stay and the stability, most of all, to stay. I look forward to working with the administration to expand resources for homeowners and communities like mine and making the American dream more accessible here in New York City.”

In further remarks, Brooks-Powers thanked Jesse Batus, the regional vice president of The Community Builders (TCB), the nonprofit developer behind the project.

Batus expressed his own optimism for the Ocean Crest’s future and praised Brooks-Powers for the part she played in the project’s approval.

“We are excited to expand access to the American dream of homeownership,” Batus said in a statement. “This project will provide affordable housing and wealth building opportunities for 89 working families in the Rockaways.”

Earlier this year, TCB presented the project’s original proposal to Community Board 14, who voted in opposition of the rezoning that would allow for the project. During a July 18 community feedback meeting, CB14 Chairperson Dolores Orr cited a “moratorium” the board put into place on all upzonings, vowing not to approve “any upzoning for R6 and larger.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who once represented Bayswater as a city councilman, previously expressed his support for the project with conditions.

Prior to the Aug. 3 approval, Mayor Eric Adams also indirectly referenced the Ocean Crest project during a press conference earlier that day about affordable housing production numbers for Fiscal Year 2023. Referring to it as “the Rockaway project,” the mayor used Ocean Crest as an example of working together despite differences to ensure the city’s success.

“We got to do the Rockaway project. We got to get [it] done with Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers,” Adams said. “So if I go to her and say, ‘Okay, since we disagree on one thing, now I don’t want to do the Rockaway project. I’m going to stay in my corner and I’m going to pout and I’m going to be upset,’ I can’t afford to do that.”

“Every day is a new day and we [are] going to do new things,” the mayor continued. “And those areas that we disagree on, so what? We disagree on them and then we move forward.”

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