Construction crews are a regular sight now in Coney Island. The community is seeing a surge of residential buildings and infrastructure upgrades, like new water and sewer lines, to accommodate the new residents expected to move in.
"To be able to get on a subway, come home and go to the beach in the summertime, what a wonderful amenity," said Charles Bendit, principal of Taconic Investment Partners.
Ground was broken Thursday across from MCU Park for a development of 450 affordable housing units, with monthly rents ranging from $800 to $1,200.
It’s one of three residential projects Taconic Investment Partners, BFC Partners, L+M Development Partners and the city are building at a cost of a quarter-billion dollars.
"The idea that some of these units will be permanently affordable so community equity, neighborhood equity, an investment in the community that will stay here and will allow generations of people to continue to live here in Coney Island," NYC Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin said.
Down the block, on Surf Avenue, hundreds of apartments are being created for homeless veterans, a project called Surf Vets Place.
And further west, 21-story towers are being built by billionaire businessman and former mayoral candidate, John Catsimatidis.
"Better than Miami Beach," said Catsimatidis, the CEO of Red Apple Group.
Rents in the luxury development, called Ocean Dreams, will be market rate. Catsimatidis says almost every apartment will have a balcony to take in the ocean breezes.
"I told our people, 'Build as fast as you can,'" Catsimatidis said. "You know why? The springtime and summertime, we’ll be fully rented."
The city rezoned the neighborhood in 2009, hoping housing would be developed on long-vacant lots.
"This was a lot that was zoned for amusements-only, essentially," said Nate Bliss, the senior vice president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation.
City Councilman Mark Treyger said he’s thrilled the properties will be put to use again, especially with affordable housing.
"Folks who are teachers, nurses, transit workers, they deserve to live in the neighborhood that they serve," the Brooklyn lawmaker said.
But first, the neighborhood has to get through all the construction. Four blocks along Surf Avenue in the amusement district are closed through mid-May. But they will reopen just in time for the next summer season -- one that will see a new wave of people moving into Coney Island.