By Katie McFadden
On Monday, July 10, a traffic circle in Arverne By the Sea was co-named for the man who made it all possible—Alvin Benjamin.
City Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Lisa George of Senator Sanders’ office, Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska and others joined Senior Project Executive Gerard Romski, Denise Coyle of Benjamin Companies and Michael Dubb of Beachwood Organization for the official co-naming ceremony of the Beach 73rd Traffic Circle in Arverne by the Sea (ABTS) on Monday.
Alvin Benjamin was the brain behind the revolutionary development for the area. Benjamin grew up in Brooklyn and went on to enlist in the U.S. Navy during WWII, rising to Captain and earning the Bronze Star for his actions aboard a landing vessel during the battle of Iwo Jima. From there, he enrolled in law school and worked under Sam Lefrak as a mortgage broker, ultimately deciding to pursue real estate full time. Lefrak encouraged Benjamin to start his own business, and he did, founding the Benjamin Development in the 1960s. His focus was on affordable senior housing and expanded into multifamily homes, becoming a visionary in designing communities, while being conscious of the environment around them. One such project was the Greens at Half Hollow.
In 2002, Benjamin Companies and Beechwood Organization were tasked with developing the grand Arverne by the Sea development, spanning from Beach 62nd to Beach 74th Street. Over the years, various aspects of the development have been completed, providing beautiful family homes and condo units near the oceanfront, as well as several commercial properties to serve the community.
Alvin Benjamin never got to see the completion of his vision, as he died in 2012 at age 92, but his legacy lives on and was acknowledged at Monday’s ceremony.
Councilwoman Brooks-Powers, an ABTS resident herself, said, “This is a great example, in terms of what community development should be. There were commitments made and I believe, by next year, the final commitments of the beginning phases will be met. Where oftentimes, development takes many years to take place, some things don’t happen as committed, so I’d like to take a moment to recognize the visionary behind Arverne by the Sea and the fact that we continue to come here and have people visit the Rockaway peninsula and see such a beautiful, not just housing, but a beautiful community, so the strength of the ABTS community is a testament of his imagination and leadership and as a proud ABTS resident, I know firsthand what that legacy means.”
After speeches by all reflecting on Alvin Benjamin and his legacy, the new sign above the ABTS traffic circle was unveiled, showing the “Alvin Benjamin Way.”
Photos by the NYC Council Media Unit.