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Far Rockaway councilwoman gets high marks from southeast Queens colleagues for Ocean Crest rezoning negotiations

Aug. 17, 2023 By Bill Parry

Southeast Queens elected leaders are praising Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers for negotiating a deal with the developers of Ocean Crest, a 100% affordable homeownership project in Far Rockaway, two weeks after the City Council approved the rezoning.

The project, which would facilitate 89 new homeownership units in Bayswater, represents the first 100% affordable homeownership development in the Rockaways in more than a decade at a time when the city’s Black population has declined by nearly 200,000 people over the past two decades due to the rising cost of living.

The Ocean Crest development near Bayswater Park in Far Rockaway will have 89 new homeownership units instead of rental apartments.Courtesy of TCB

“I commend Councilwoman Brooks-Powers for her leadership and efforts on this project. Homeownership plays a critical role in producing generational wealth within the Black community,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “Historically, systemic racism, discriminatory lending practices and redlining have hindered Black people from accessing homeownership opportunities. The Ocean Crest rezoning initiative provides New Yorkers with the foundation to build equity and generational wealth. This effort has the potential to narrow the wealth gap and demonstrate economic empowerment by promoting financial security, educating individuals, and encouraging upward mobility for marginalized communities.”

The site for the project, on a parking lot located across from Bayswater Park on Bay 32nd Street, will be developed jointly by The Community Builders (TCB), a nonprofit innovator in rental and for sale affordable and mixed-income housing, and Nehemiah HDFC, an industry leader that anchors communities with quality and affordable housing for low-to-moderate income families.

“We are greatly encouraged by the Ocean Crest Affordable Homeownership Project, a herculean joint effort between city and state elected officials to create historic 100% affordable homeownership in Far Rockaway,” Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said. “Homeownership is the key to prosperity, equity, generational wealth and upward mobility in America, especially for Black and Brown working-class families who have been pushed out of New York in record numbers. I am proud to have secured a $2.5 million commitment in state funding for this project. I want to commend my colleague NYC Council Majority Whip Brooks-Powers and Community Builders for finalizing a project that is responsive to our community’s needs with significant commitments to local hiring, union labor, public space, parking, and MWBE contracting.”

Community benefits included in the agreement include 50% of new hires from Community Board 14, 35% minority and women-owned business utilization, and a mutually agreed-upon labor monitor. The development will feature a resilient project design and investments in local stormwater infrastructure and targeted outreach to NYCHA residents to provide them with homeownership opportunities at Ocean Crest.

“The agreement on the Ocean Crest project is a notable achievement to advance affordable homeownership in Far Rockaway,” state Senator James Sanders said. “This project should serve as a model to promote more affordable homeownership in southeast Queens. Homeownership is the cornerstone for building thriving and stable communities to the benefit of everyone.”

Speaker Adrienne Adams said the deal negotiated by Councilwoman Brooks-Powers creates a critical pathway to building equity in Far Rockaway.

Speaker Adrienne Adams said addressing the city’s housing crisis requires an “all-of-the-above approach and solutions” that will allow New Yorkers to build their legacies for the long term.

“The Ocean Crest Rezoning creates new opportunities for affordable homeownership, which is a critical pathway to building equity and multi-generational communities where families can remain in the neighborhoods they call home,” Adams said. “This project will also deliver key community benefits and infrastructure investments that will make the Rockaways more resilient.”

To facilitate this development, the City Council approved a zoning map amendment from an R4-1 to R6A at 29-32 Beach Channel Drive. Construction is expected to begin as soon as 2024.

“Homeownership has long been a vehicle for Americans to build wealth,” Brooks-Powers said. “But for low-income New Yorkers, investing in a home – and keeping it, such that a family can build equity over generations – has never been more difficult than it is today. So many New Yorkers, especially those in communities of color, are being priced out of the neighborhoods they call home. Affordable homeownership projects like Ocean Crest help ensure more New Yorkers have the ability and the stability to stay.”

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