Downtown Far Rockaway

  • Illustrative View Looking North from the A Train Station
  • Illustrative View Looking East on Mott Avenue
  • Illustrative View Looking South from Redfern Houses
  • Reprise by Jason Rohlf at Mott Ave Station.
  • Rendering of Queens Far Rockaway Branch Public Library by Snøhetta.
  • Council Member Donovan Richards and community members at the September 2016 Public Info Session.
  • Eazy Locks at 1914 Mott Avenue.
Last Updated September 06, 2017

NYCEDC, in partnership with City agencies and local stakeholders, is committed to smart, community-driven investments that will better connect the Downtown Far Rockaway neighborhood to job centers, increase economic opportunity, and improve the quality of life for the people who call the area home.


Far Rockaway is a neighborhood in the easternmost section of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens Community District 14. Located at the terminus of the A train and the Long Island Railroad, and within walking distance from both Jamaica Bay and Rockaway’s famed boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean beachfront, Far Rockaway is home to a diverse community of residents and businesses. Downtown Far Rockaway is the historic commercial core of the Rockaway Peninsula and is anchored by the Central Avenue, Mott Avenue, and Beach 20th Street retail corridors. The downtown faces many challenges, including retail vacancies, a lack of community services, amenities, housing options, and quality open space for residents and visitors. 

Downtown Far Rockaway is poised for a transformation. Major new developments will better connect the neighborhood, increase economic opportunity, and improve the quality of life for the people who call the area home. Based on feedback from community leaders, business owners, and residents, the de Blasio administration is investing in Downtown Far Rockaway’s existing infrastructure—as well as supporting new commercial and residential developments—to strengthen and revitalize this community.

Community Engagement

Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group

In November 2015, Councilman Donovan Richards convened the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Groupa team of local and state elected officials, and community, business, and non-profit stakeholdersto develop a set of goals and recommendations to support the revitalization of the neighborhood.

Shaping the Future of Downtown Far Rockaway (January Public Meeting)

In January 2016, Councilman Donovan Richards, in partnership with the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group and the City of New York, held a public meeting with over one hundred community members to discuss a variety of challenges and opportunities, identify priorities and key issues, and provide ideas on a set of recommendations that will help guide future development and investments in the neighborhood. View footage from the Shaping the Future of Downtown Far Rockaway Public Meeting and see photos from the event here.

Letter to Mayor de BlasioWorking Group Letter to Mayor de Blasio

The Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group received input from over one hundred community members at the January public meeting and delivered their recommendations to Mayor de Blasio in February 2016. In the letter, the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group asked that the City activate long-vacant sites, increase access to housing and retail opportunities in the neighborhood, and help the area realize its potential as the commercial hub of the peninsula. View the full letter here.

Shaping the Future of Downtown Far Rockaway (May Public Meeting)

In May 2016, Councilman Donovan Richards in partnership with the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group and the City of New York held a public open house to present the City’s initial strategies in response to the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group’s recommendations and provide an opportunity to hear the community’s feedback. The community members were shown the City’s progress in addressing what they identified as key issues with a series of interactive booths, each with City agency representatives present to receive input. View photos from the event here.

Roadmap for Action

Roadmap for Action

The Downtown Far Rockaway Roadmap for Action is a comprehensive response to the letter from the Working Group and a major interagency plan to re-establish Downtown Far Rockaway as the commercial hub of the Rockaway peninsula. The plan integrates land use tools with infrastructure investments and improved community services to transform the downtown core into a vibrant, mixed-use center. The Roadmap for Action includes the following five strategies:

  • Identifying new opportunities for mixed-income housing;
  • Improving transportation infrastructure and transforming public space;
  • Strengthening existing commercial corridors, small businesses, and connections to jobs;
  • Expanding upon community services and cultural assets; and
  • Rezoning the downtown area to unlock development potential for commercial and residential uses.

Download the Downtown Far Rockaway Roadmap for Action.

Shaping the Future of Downtown Far Rockaway (September Public Information Session)

In September 2016, Councilman Donovan Richards partnered with The City to hold a public information session to present the contents of the Roadmap for Action in greater detail. Representatives from multiple City agencies were present to provide updates and answer questions on Downtown Far Rockaway projects and initiatives. View photos from the event here.

Environmental Review

The Final Scope of Work, Notice of Completion, Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), and Technical Memoranda for the proposed project, and all contact information can be downloaded on the Environmental Review page. These documents are also available on the website of the Mayor's Office of Environmental Coordination.

Related Projects

Beach 21st Street Mixed-Use Project (NYCEDC, HPD)

The Beach 21st Street Mixed-Use project presents an exciting opportunity to create a mixed-use development as one of the first steps in the comprehensive revitalization of Downtown Far Rockaway. NYCEDC and HPD have released an RFP for the long-term ground lease and development of the approximately 42,500-square-foot site in the center of Downtown Far Rockaway. Read more about the project and access the RFP here.

Beach 20th Street Plaza (NYCEDC, DOT)

The Beach 20th Street Pedestrian Plaza is a City-owned open space in the heart of downtown Far Rockaway, strategically located between Beach 20th and Beach 21st Streets. Opened in December 2015, the plaza features bench seating areas, landscaped garden areas, and Flushing Meadows-styled light poles with enhanced LED lighting and a drinking fountain.

Access to Opportunity (DOT, HPD)

Access to Opportunity is a multi-year transportation and housing study in the Eastern Rockaways aimed at improving the community's access to goods, services, and jobs through investments in roadway, public transit, pedestrian, and cycling infrastructure. This study is a collaboration between the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development (HPD) to align transportation investments with land use and housing investments. 

Find more information here.

Sorrentino Recreation Center Improvements & Grassmere Playground (DPR)

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is engaged in an effort to provide a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to the Sorrentino Recreational Center, as well as other interior upgrades, located at 18-48 Cornaga Ave. In addition to Sorrentino Recreation Center work, DPR is also completing improvements at Grassmere Playground, including the reconstruction of the play equipment, swings, landscaping, and sitting areas.

Check out this link for more information on the Sorrentino Rec Center and this link for more information on the Grassmere Playground.

Downtown Far Rockaway Urban Design and Reconstruction Project (DOT, DDC)

The Downtown Far Rockaway Urban Design and Reconstruction Project is aimed at enhancing the public realm in Downtown Far Rockaway by implementing a comprehensive urban design plan and streetscape improvements that would encourage safer, more hospitable pedestrian circulation while employing sustainable, energy-efficient, and cost-effective materials, as well as image-defining street design elements. This project will help accomplish the larger goals of inviting increased activity in the central business district (CBD) and strengthening the district’s environmental sustainability and resiliency in the wake of weather events. 

More information available here.

Sewer & Water Main Upgrades (DEP, DDC)

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Design and Construction (DDC) are upgrading the sewer and water delivery systems in Far Rockaway. The $22.5 million infrastructure upgrade will add nearly a mile of storm sewers, install 79 catch basins, and replace more than a mile of existing sanitary sewers to prevent flooding during heavy rainstorms.

More information available here.

Downtown Far Rockaway Storefront Improvement Program (SBS)

The Downtown Far Rockaway Storefront Improvement Program is an initiative of the New York City Business Assistance Corporation (NYBAC), NYCEDC, and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), with the support of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. The grant provided a 75% match of funds (up to $10,000 per storefront) to help local business and property owners complete storefront renovation projects. Nineteen business owners were selected, with improvements completed in winter 2016.

Rockaway Economic Advancement Initiative (SBS)

SBS, in collaboration with NYCHA, CEO, and Citi Community Development, launched a $1.1 million investment in 2014 to expand place-based economic empowerment and mobility and connect Far Rockaway residents to high-quality, full-time employment.

New Far Rockaway Branch Library (QPL)

The existing 9,000-square-foot single-story Far Rockaway Queens Library will be replaced with a new two-story, 18,000-square-foot building to fulfill the expanding needs of the surrounding community. The branch will serve the neighborhood with library services, programs for all ages, after‐school study hours, story reading, and community events. The design aims meet both the current needs of the community and future neighborhood growth.

The Rockaway Branch of the Queens Library will move into a temporary adjacent location as demolition begins in Spring 2018, with a goal of reopening in Summer 2021. The building, designed by Snøhetta, has received the Public Design Commission of the City of New York's recognition for outstanding public projects, the Annual Award for Excellence in Design.

Resilient Edgemere (HPD)

The Resilient Edgemere Community Plan is a joint effort by several City agencies to align New York City’s Sandy recovery and rebuilding investments in Edgemere with a long-term and comprehensive community vision. HPD is leading this initiative in close collaboration with the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), the NYC Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations (HRO), and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR). 

More information available here.

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