Far Rockaway awaits a 9-story hotel to its downtown commercial district. Developers are excited about the project, but locals are not sure if a hotel of that size will fit in the area. City Councilman Donovan Richards is anxious yet curious about how such a venture would affect the beach community. He fears that should the project fail, it will be turned into a homeless shelter. Additionally, Community Board 14 district manager Jonathan Gaska wonders about the need for a hotel directly off of Mott Avenue.
The hotel is planned for Foam Street, a section of Far Rockaway adjacent to Brian Piccolo Intermediate School 53. It is off of Central Avenue, down the street from the Far Rockaway Branch of the New York Public Library. The developer for the hotel is yet unnamed, but the building, owned by Dayakar Dasireddy, is zoned to allow high-rise buildings. The only problem is that the developer must secure permission to put an entrance on an unmapped street.
The area has popular chains such as McDonald’s and Subways but also has its fill of nursing homes, drug rehab centers and halfway houses. Developers are attempting to bring a different type of business into the area. As Far Rockaway awaits a 9-story hotel, Residents are not sure if a hotel adjacent to the gentrifying Far Rockaway Shopping Center is a good idea.
The shopping center, an iconic symbol of Far Rockaway, is in the throes or rehabilitation itself. With a new Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins planned for the site, other businesses are sure to be on the heels, says Far Rockaway Shopping Center owner Rita Stark. In fact, she is in negotiations for yet another tenant to move into the spacious area. Additionally, Community Board 14 member Gaska contends that with renewal on the horizon, shopping ventures will fuel the gentrification. He sees the shopping center as the “linchpin of the beginning of the economic revitalization of Far Rockaway.”
The businesses that come will be in good company. Long-time stores such as Garry’s Discount and Gino’s Pizzeria are landmarks in the area. Thriftway Drugs leads the pack in terms of stores that have thrived in Far Rockaway for more than three decades. With things on the upswing as far as commerce goes, locals do not want the venture of a hotel to slow progress. Locals fear that should it fail, it will be bring down the new vibe of the area.
Far Rockaway has had its share of troubles. After taking the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, the beach community has struggled to return to its previous glory. Its location within the Rockaway Peninsula meant that it bore the brunt of the crashing waves from the Atlantic Ocean, but the community rallied. Hollywood celebrities as well as humanitarian groups made sure that Far Rockaway got the funds it needed to rebuild. Three years hence, homes are being rebuilt, the boardwalk is being shored up and businesses are looking at Far Rockaway as a place to bring familiar franchises. As Far Rockaway awaits a 9-story hotel, locals hold their breath and hope that the beach community that stretches from Beach 20th Street down to the Atlantic Ocean, will embrace it.
By Danielle Branch
Photo Courtesy of Joe Bonilla-Used with Permission of Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Joe Bonilla-Used With Permission of Photographer