NYC’s first net-zero community moves forward in Far Rockaway

December 17, 2021

Image courtesy of Local Office Landscape/Bernheimer Architecture

After more than 40 years of planning, the construction of  New York City’s first net-zero community is moving forward. L+M Development Partners, the Bluestone Organization, and Triangle Equities have agreed on $30.3 million in financing, signaling the beginning of phase one of Arverne East, a sustainability-focused, mixed-use development project in Far Rockaway. The project will bring 1,650 new units of housing, with 80 percent of them affordable, to a 116-acre oceanfront site that has been vacant for more than four decades.

With the goal of restoring the wildlife and their habitat, a 35-acre nature preserve will be built between Beach 44th Street and Beach 56th Place as part of phase one of the project. Starr Whitehouse is designing the nature preserve, with WXY tapped as the architect for the nature center.

A new building on the preserve will hold a welcome center, park ranger office, comfort station, and community center that will be run by RISE, a non-profit organization that provides social resources like youth development programs for the Rockaway community.

The project also aims to stimulate retail in the neighborhood by promoting local businesses and connecting the beach to the 36th Street A train subway station. Developers say the creation of a beachfront hotel as well as a brewery and restaurant operated by the Rockaway Brewing Company will support business growth.

“Arverne East is a true community-first and environmentally-friendly project that will bring much-needed housing, stores, community space and other amenities to a long-neglected neighborhood,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr, said in a statement. “The fact that Arverne East will include an innovative nature preserve and be the City’s first net-zero community makes this development truly transformational in every sense of the word.”

Upon completion, Arverne East will be one of the most sustainable developments in the country and the first net-zero community in New York City.

The new buildings will be developed using efficient mechanical systems, including a “campus-wide district geothermal loop” for efficient heating and cooling and photovoltaic panels to “offset energy used in the new buildings,” according to a press release. Through the use of these technologies, the property will fully eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

To protect against sea surges and flooding, the buildings will be elevated three to eight feet above the existing ground level, well above the height of floodwaters during Hurricane Sandy and four feet higher than the required New York City flood elevation standard.

Arverne East will set a new standard for sustainable developments in coastal areas and revitalize the Far Rockaway community, providing social and economic resources to an area that has long been in need of it.


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