The Riis Park Bathhouse has received the funding needed to proceed with revitalization. On Tuesday, March 28, CBSK Developers, Brooklyn Bazaar and Aulder Capital closed on $47.5 million in financing for the rehabilitation of the historic bathhouse at Jacob Riis Park. After sitting underutilized for nearly half a century, the large-scale preservation project will restore the 1932 building to its former glory and transform the waterfront into an active hub with new restaurants, a bar, pool, event spaces and 28 hotel rooms. The project is financed through a $32.5 million construction loan from Procida and a $15 million historic tax credit equity investment from Foss & Company.
“Today’s closing is a major step forward toward the revitalization and rejuvenation of the iconic Jacob Riis Bathhouse,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The restoration of this historic art deco structure is emblematic of the Rockaway Peninsula’s continuing recovery from the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy and is a symbol of the brighter future we are creating for the Rockaways, its residents, and its many visitors. I look forward to the start of this restoration, and I can’t wait to visit this amazing structure once the work is finished.”
This extensive overhaul will breathe new life into the historic bathhouse, starting with a full restoration of the building’s landmarked façade, windows and turrets. The project will also bring back many of the bathhouse’s original features – it was once home to two restaurants, a cafeteria, and numerous concession stands. The restoration will add a range of similar amenities for the public, including a rooftop restaurant, ground floor eateries, a casual beachfront bar, and retailers stocking beach supplies such as sunblock and towels. The project also includes 28 hotel rooms, a catering hall and multiple event spaces. In the building’s outdoor courtyard, there will be a new pool and lounge areas. Plans for the project underwent careful review by New York’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and will preserve the building’s famed Byzantine, Moorish and Moderne influences.
“The revitalization of the bathhouse will bring new jobs, commerce and entertainment to the Peninsula. This is a huge step for ‘The People’s Beach’ and an amazing new chapter for our community. I cannot wait to see the finished project and want to thank the project developers and everyone involved for their vision and work,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said.
“Every year, we are seeing more and more investment into the Rockaway peninsula – investment that is helping to restore the area to its former position as a premier summertime destination,” City Councilmember Joann Ariola said. “This revitalization at the Riis Park Bathhouse is a major step forward towards that goal of restoring Rockaway to its former vacation-destination glory, and I can’t wait to see what kind of opportunity this will no doubt bring to the residents of the area.”
“Our vision for this project centers on preserving the storied past of the Jacob Riis Park Bathhouse while revitalizing it to serve today’s beachgoers, and this closing milestone brings us one step closer to achieving that goal,” CBSK’s Scott Shnay said. “The building has been an iconic landmark on the Queens’ waterfront for decades and our restoration plan for the bathhouse will transform it into a modern beachfront hub, complete with a full range of amenities for the public. We look forward to work getting underway and unveiling a new summertime destination for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy.”
“After years of working in the Rockaways alongside this resilient community, we are thrilled to see our plan for revitalizing the bathhouse at Jacob Riis Park move forward,” said Brooklyn Bazaar Co-Founders Aaron Broudo and Belvy Klein. “This building sits on one of the most treasured stretches of beachfront in the city and our vision will realize its full potential by adding new uses, from exciting dining options to beach concessions, all while preserving the historic elements of the structure. Thank you to our elected officials for their unwavering support, and to our community and project partners for their help in getting this project off the ground.”
“The overhaul of the historic bathhouse will restore a beloved beachfront institution, and we are very excited to work with such an experienced team on this transformative project,” Brian Foley, a partner at Procida Funding and Advisors, said. “Now that we have put together the capital, we look forward to work getting underway.”
In 2017, the National Park Service (NPS) selected Rockaway Beach boardwalk concessionaire Brooklyn Bazaar to renovate the facility following a competitive RFP process, and in October 2022, both parties entered into a long-term lease agreement. The development partner on the project, prominent New York City real estate development and management firm CBSK, has successfully completed numerous complex ground-up developments, adaptive reuse projects and repositionings in its 50-year history. Some of their leading hospitality projects include Ruschmeyers, Pod Brooklyn, the Hotel Kinsley and INNESS. Recent residential and mixed-use projects include 10 Bond Street, 40 Gansevoort Street, and 363 Lafayette Street.
Known for their expertise in restoring, revitalizing and reusing historic buildings and sites, architecture and planning firm Beyer Blinder Belle is leading the design for the adaptive reuse project, with construction set to begin later this spring and a phased opening expected for 2024.
The project utilizes best practices for coastal resiliency and sustainability, including the implementation of Aquafence technology as part of a careful flood proofing plan and the creation of a Zero Waste plan. The project team is also planning to reintroduce native plants within its landscaping design. All development plans have also undergone extensive review by the NPS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management to ensure they do not interfere with the existing wildlife or the local habitat.