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L+M venture secures $30M loan to start work on Rockaway nature preserve

L+M Development Partners, the Bluestone Organization and Triangle Equities have closed on $30.3 million in financing for the first phase of Arverne East, a project that will revitalize a vacant 116-acre oceanfront site in the Arverne and Edgemere neighborhoods in Queens’ Rockaway Peninsula. 

Funding for the first phase was provided by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The project’s first phase, a 35-acre nature preserve between Beach 44th Street and Beach 56th Place, is designed to restore and promote native ecology. It will include a new building featuring a welcome center, park ranger office, comfort station, and a community center that will be owned and operated by RISE, a non-profit organization that provides civic engagement and youth development programs. 

WBE firm Starr Whitehouse is the landscape architect for the nature preserve and WXY, also a WBE, is the architect for the nature center, which will set the energy efficiency and sustainability bar for the entire project by utilizing geothermal technology and an extensive photovoltaic array that will produce more power than is utilized on site. 

“As committed members of the Arverne and Edgemere communities for over a decade, we are proud to bring this site to life through a project that will set a new standard for sustainable and resilient development,” said Sara Levenson, Senior Director at L+M Development Partners.

“Arverne East will provide a host of long-awaited neighborhood resources and further support the economic revitalization of the central and eastern sections of the Rockaway Peninsula. This project exemplifies how much can be accomplished for New Yorkers through thoughtful public-private, and community partnerships. We appreciate the unwavering efforts of our partners in helping us achieve this important milestone for Arverne, Edgemere, and the Rockaways.”

The nature preserve is part of the larger Arverne East development that will ultimately include 1,650 apartments – 80 percent affordable and 20 percent market-rate. 

The main retail corridor, connecting the 36th Street A train subway station to the beach, will be anchored by a new full production brewery and restaurant operated by the Rockaway Brewing Company as well as a beachfront hotel. The project will also include diverse neighborhood retail. MBE firm Urbane will join the venture and serve as a development partner on the project, spearheading the curation of retail and small business within the development to promote the growth of new and existing local, small businesses. The project will also include a community center and numerous outdoor public open spaces. 

“In moving forward with this long-envisioned plan for Arverne East, we are ushering in a more resilient and inclusive future for the Rockaways community,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “More than 1,300 affordable homes will follow this nature preserve, breathing new life into a site that has gone undeveloped and unused for decades. We’re proud of the hard work and ingenuity from our development partners and staff that went into making this possible.”

“With the first phase of this historic Arverne East project complete, we look forward to the expansion of truly affordable housing and homeownership opportunities for families on Far Rockaway,” said Assembly Member Khaleel M. Anderson. “My role as the Assembly Member is to ensure that the developers honor their commitment to our community in prioritizing affordable housing, homeownership, local hiring, and environmental sustainability. I look forward to continued partnership with my colleagues in government, the Arverne East Community Advisory Board, and the developers to ensure the community has a voice in this project.”

As the Rockaways continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, climate change remains an existential threat to the entire Peninsula.

Arverne East is designed to meet the challenge head-on – from an elevated topography to buildings that produce more renewable energy than they consume, making Arverne East the first net zero community in the city.

The project plans to achieve net zero status through a number of strategies including passive house construction, which will create buildings that are highly insulated and airtight while also bringing in fresh, filtered air through new energy efficient mechanical systems.

At the heart of these mechanical systems will be a campus wide district geothermal loop that uses the earth’s ambient temperature as a source for heat transfer allowing for efficient heating and cooling.

Finally, photovoltaic panels across the development will produce enough energy to offset the energy used in the new buildings, allowing the project to achieve net zero status.  

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