As Farr breaks ground on affordable development in Rockaway, county president Innovation talks about “crazy discussions” on QNS project. | So Good News
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined Far Rockaway elected officials and developers on Oct. 28 to break ground on the $97 million Beach Channel Drive 100% affordable housing development, which will include 157 very affordable apartments as well as 100 supportive housing units for singles. Women.
Although Richards never mentioned her by name in his speech, Richards expressed opposition to the message aimed at Councilwoman Julie Vaughn and her proposed $2 billion Innovation QNS project in Astoria. The two clashed during a City Council hearing on the proposed rezoning on Oct. 19 after Vaughn said he would not support the project unless developers committed to providing another 15% of the available units.
“We cannot tell a way out of this situation [housing] crisis; we have to build a way out of this crisis,” Richards said during the groundbreaking in Far Rockaway. “We’re having a crazy discussion about Innovation QNS. I wish Astoria had as many subsidies as Far Rockaway, but that’s just not true.”
QNS has reached out to Vaughn’s office and is awaiting a response. The Beach Channel Drive project is being built by BRC and Camber Property Group on the site of the old Driftway Mall, which was in the neighborhood for more than 40 years before the Far Rockaway downtown rezoning in 2015.
“Today is a great day to make sure people understand that every neighborhood in our district deserves to provide affordable housing for everyone, so I wanted to put that on the record,” Richards said. “Every neighborhood, not just Astoria and Long Island City, needs to shelter people in need and not treat people like they don’t belong in their neighborhood.”
Assemblyman Khalil Anderson grew up just down the street from the Beach Channel Drive site, and he said the neighborhood’s vulnerable population would benefit from services provided by the development.
“With so many families and individuals affected by chronic and mental illness, we have a public health crisis everywhere,” Anderson said. “We need to expand the supportive housing model in a fair and responsible manner, prioritizing social and health services. Residents also benefit from structured programming to ensure the most vulnerable New Yorkers have a safe environment in which to live. I look forward to the success of this development and how we can get Rockaway residents off the streets and into safe, decent and affordable housing.”
Resident amenities in the building include full-time security and maintenance staff, local staff offices, social service area, community room, outdoor recreation area, bicycle storage and laundry room.
“Housing our community’s most vulnerable residents can be the start of their success, and it must be done through the lens of justice,” said Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers. “At a time when New York City’s housing crisis is at its peak, this development, with its new housing, much-needed public space and amenities, will provide my community with critical resources to help continue the renaissance of downtown Far Rockaway.”
BRC is one of the city’s most experienced providers of shelter and housing for homeless adults, and Camber has made an impact since 2016 by developing projects and preserving much-needed affordable housing.
“Providing New Yorkers with a path to stable and sustainable housing is critical to addressing our city’s most pressing needs. We are pleased to partner with BRC, a leading provider of transitional and secondary housing, and Adams Administration to build 147 units of housing, along with a 100-bed transitional housing complex for women,” said Rick Gropper, founder and principal of Camber Property Group.
State Sen. James Sanders said the bill checks a lot of boxes.
“What we need right now is affordable housing in Queens and especially in the Rockaways,” Sanders said. “I welcome this new site, which is a great example of what can be achieved when private industry works with public partners and the community.”