A unanimous vote by the city council has now cleared the way for a nearly 3-hundred million dollar redevelopment project in Far Rockaway. NY1's Angi Gonzalez has reaction from local leaders and residents who say they've been waiting decades to see this happen.
Councilman Donovan Richards lights up when he talks about the Downtown Far Rockaway Redevelopment Project.
"I think there are a lot of opportunities that are going to draw people from Nassau County back over but it’s also about ensuring that we can reconnect people and make this the central hub which it once was for the Rockaways," Richards said.
The $288 million effort, includes $126 million in new investments from the city to, among other things, build a new library & park, update infrastructure, modernize and expand the area's public transit options, create more commercial space and build new affordable housing.
To do that, the rezoning of areas like the old and nearly vacant Thriftway Shopping Center at the corner of Mott and Central Avenues was crucial.
"Since 1961 this areas rezoning had never been touched…we basically now have passed rezoning in the city council that is going to unlock the potential that this neighborhood really does have," Richards said.
Previous zoning restrictions for certain areas, for things like manufacturing, limited what could occupy or be built.
To change things the redevelopment plan needed approval.
City Council voted in favor of the effort 46-0.
Both Richards and CB14's District Manager Jonathan Gaska credit Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration with making the plan a priority.
Despite the redevelopment being a done deal, however, many residents expressed skepticism it would happen now after hearing about it for so many years.
"I'll believe it when i see it," one woman said.
"they are talking about rebuilding that's nice but when?" said another woman.
"I really hope it goes through," one man said.
The public wasn’t unaware of the effort public meetings were so local residents could have a say in the changes.
"We wanted jobs. We wanted people who had jobs to move here which then could vote an influence government to give us more amenities," said CB14's District Manager Jonathan Gaska.
The projects will take varying times to complete some are scheduled to begin this fall with some completion dates projected for 2019.