Edgemere 2.0 : Arker Development

Arker Real Estate Development Companies have announced that they will spearhead the Peninsula redevelopment project in the Rockaways. The project is estimated to take a total of 10-15 years, and will be split into three separate phases with phase one to be completed in three years. According to Arker developers, this project will bring 2,200 units of mixed-income housing to the Rockaways. A 20,000 square foot Western Beef supermarket will be included along with 150,000 square feet of community space comprised of commercial, community and medical facilities. In addition to these defined spaces, the project will include 38,000 square feet of public space and 1,000 parking spaces.

Here are some of the community benefits:

1. Mixed-income housing:

The project offers 2,200 mixed-income housing units. Mixed-income housing places individuals who are in different economic classes (low-income residents with middle or upper-income residents) into apartment units in the same building. Residents will receive affordable housing, the criteria for which is the Area Median Income, most commonly referred to as AMI. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates AMI for every city in the country. The 2019 AMI for NYC is $96,100 meaning that half of the residents in any given community, take the Rockaways for instance, earn more than $96,100 while the other half earns less than that. Therefore, AMI is the midpoint income between these two extremes. According to the Local Planning Handbook, AMIs determine both eligibility “to live in income-restricted housing units and the affordability of housing units to low-income households.” In order to address affordable housing needs which primarily impact low-income residents, housing should address people whose income falls within these three levels of AMI:

30% AMI or below

31-50% AMI

51% and 80% AMI

The Peninsula development’s 2,200 housing units will prioritize local low-income residents, with 1,927 units for individuals ranging from 30% AMI to 80% AMI. The other 273 units dedicated to individuals with AMIs ranging from 90% to 130%. According to the Queens Census Reporter, Far Rockaway’s average income per person is $25,869, and there are on average three people per household. As such, a household with a single parent and two children where the income is 28,830, would qualify for 30% AMI housing. Therefore, this tenant would pay $672 for rent, not including electricity. To find your AMI as well as what an affordable housing unit based on your AMI is, go to: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/renters/area-median-income.page. This resource will provide simple and detailed steps to give you an idea of what you could pay based on your income bracket, people per household, and determined AMI.

2. Community Space:

This project offers several community spaces such as commercial space and community facilities including child care, education, and cultural institutions.

3. Recreational Spaces:

The development will also provide open spaces such as public space, a playground, a public plaza, and an undefined recreational space.

4. Local Community Hires:

The Arker development company has also considered the economic effect this project will have on the community. About 300 to 350 full time jobs will be available with potential yearly earnings of $39.3 million. Further, with expected management and maintenance of the development, an expected 600-650 people can be employed. The planned Western Beef supermarket may also provide additional permanent jobs for local residents.

5. Storm Resiliency:

Arker planners were careful when considering the development’s infrastructure, which will take into account storm preparedness. In anticipation of future issues that may arise, developers have included elevated streets, standby generators, solar panels, and a bioretention rainwater system, to name a few savvy storm preparatory frameworks.

Public Criticism and Excitement:

Following the announcement of this project, the Peninsula Hospital redevelopment plan has received mixed feedback from community members. On one hand, residents such as Glenn DiResto, have criticized the development plan, stating:

The plan to develop the former Peninsula Hospital site could be a good thing. However, the CURRENT plan is irresponsible and reckless as it would overdevelop the site causing significant adverse impact on many residents in Edgemere, Arverne, and the surrounding Rockaway communities. The current plan would be bringing in roughly 7,000+ NEW residents, similar in size to the Ocean Bay Houses and Arverne View COMBINED. Without better educational, economic, and transportation opportunities and a better balance of incomes the current plan will only further economically and racially segregate the Rockaway communities and does not provide true benefits to the community they are seeking to rebuild.

While some residents have more critical feedback for the upcoming development plan, several Edgemere residents note their excitement about the upcoming project. One Community Board 14 member, Tamera Jacobs, stated:

The redevelopment of Peninsula Hospital provides a real opportunity for Edgemere residents to have access to a grocery store, community space, and provides affordable housing to working class families. This redevelopment is critical to the lives of Rockaway residents. Therefore, it is necessary that the individuals directly impacted by the Peninsula Hospital project participate in the conversation and have a seat at the decision-making table. Without intentional involvement of these residents, the project will not benefit the immediate community, but rather create greater problems.

Of course, with any project, mixed feelings and criticisms are expected. However, what we do know, is that the Peninsula Redevelopment project represents a fundamental advancement for Rockaway. Therefore, it is imperative to remember that your voice matters, and it is absolutely important to have members in the community lead the conversation as it will directly impact you most!