On Wednesday, February 15, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Far Rockaway will receive $4.5 million in funding as one of the New York City region winners of the first round of NY Forward. Building on the momentum of the state’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s communities.
“New York’s smaller towns and cities are the heartbeat of our state,” Governor Hochul said. “Through NY Forward, my administration is building on the continued success of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative to ensure these communities have the resources they need to reach their full potential. I’m proud to announce Far Rockaway will receive $4.5 million from this initiative to support locally-led projects that will enhance the downtown’s beauty and help the community thrive.”
NY Forward is a central component of the State’s economic development efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York’s downtowns and commercial corridors. NY Forward communities serve the immediate local residents and are more local in nature, as opposed to communities typically funded through DRI that focus on amenities and attractions that serve the regional community. For the New York City region, NY Forward communities are BID-scale business districts, where projects are developed with input from local residents.
Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan that includes a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support those communities with less internal capacity as part of the NY Forward program and fund projects appropriately scaled to the size of each community. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces, and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town charm.
Far Rockaway aims to revitalize its downtown by enhancing its facades to create a more cohesive and beautified area as well as improving pedestrian and visitor wayfinding, bicycle infrastructure and streetscape amenities to emphasize proximity of Far Rockaway’s beaches to its downtown commercial core. It also seeks to establish itself as a destination for shopping and dining through partnership with the MTA and by creating seasonal, annual and/or periodic events to attract families to shop and enjoy the area.
“This investment in Far Rockaway will help in promoting local businesses, creating economic opportunity, and improving the quality of life for residents of southeast Queens,” State Senator James Sanders said. “This announcement represents a real commitment by New York State towards addressing the years of disinvestment in Far Rockaway.”
“This award will support our diverse small business community, devastated by Superstorm Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic, by investing in beautification and a more cohesive pedestrian experience,” Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson said. “I am committed to working with Governor Hochul, NY Forward, my government colleagues, the merchants association, and community leaders to ensure the post-pandemic renaissance continues in downtown Far Rockaway.”
Far Rockaway will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.