FAR ROCKAWAY — The city is seeking developers to turn an empty, publicly owned lot into a mixed-used development in downtown Far Rockaway as part of its multi-million dollar revitalization.
The 42,500-square-foot piece of land on Beach 21st Street is currently empty and used as a place for buses to turn around — but could soon house affordable apartments, stores and a community center, officials said.
It's the first request for proposals for projects in the city's $91 million investment to re-develop downtown Far Rockaway, which was announced last year.
It's being released by the Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
"The release of this RFP reaffirms the city’s commitment to investing in Downtown Far Rockaway, and to re-establishing it as a mixed-use village," EDC President Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement.
Councilman Donovan Richards, who has pushed for the neighborhood's long-awaited changes, said the ideal development should have a mix of everything to spur continued growth.
"Anything coming into my district needs to be a mixed-use development," he said, adding that locals "need more than just housing in the community," while also highlighting the importance of affordable units.
The site could include up to 175 affordable apartments, according to HPD Commissioner Vicki Been.
"As we work with our partner agencies on a larger initiative to revitalize the Far Rockaway area, we see this RFP as a chance to create more affordable housing opportunities for a range of incomes," she said.
Officials held meetings through the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group to gather ideas from residents on what was needed in the neighborhood, which has transportation options but has struggled with empty storefronts and a lack of investment.
Richards and other members told the city they'd have to find a way to use city-owned land to push development, including this lot.
"It's an underutilized lot, there's definitely an opportunity to do something for Rockaway residents and newcomers," he said.