For over 53 years now, the vacant lot on the corner of 137th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens has been a ‘field of dreams’ for Rochdale Village. It is the last vacant parcel from the original Jamaica Racetrack that closed August, 1959. The site currently stores the cooperative’s maintenance equipment and also serves as a fenced-in dumping ground for winter snow and excavated dirt.
Over the decades numerous surveys, studies and analyses have been presented to generations of board members with the goal of finding the best use for the space however, finding the trifecta, a proposal that meets the community’s needs for additional parking, new retail options and an income stream that offsets carrying charge increases are steep demands.
Over the last four months, proposals narrowed down to two seasoned contenders: The Briarwood Organization, LLC, (Queens based for 106 years) et. al.; and BRP Development. Monday, March 26, 2018, the Rochdale Village Board of Directors ratified the decision to accept a proposal for site conversion plans from the Briarwood Team with member votes of eight for; seven against. The developer’s estimated cost to build the mixed-use structures calls for an investment of $129,000,000 and assures jobs creation, community revitalization and sweeping changes to a long dormant tract of land.
- Rochdale Village maintains possession of the developed parcel and is instead leasing the land to The Briarwood Team.
- After 15 years Rochdale Village has the option to own the development 100%.
- Rochdale Village receives 2.5 million when construction starts.
- In years 1-15 Rochdale Village receives ground lease payments totaling approximately $3.25 million.
- In years 16-30, Rochdale Village Inc. has the option of ending the lease and getting full ownership or renegotiating it.
- There will be approximately $80 million in mortgages on the development after 15 years, but the building will still generate significant income because most of the mortgages have 1% interest.
- Those mortgages are for this new site only and there is no financial liability for the rest of Rochdale Village.
- Income potential for Rochdale Village in years 16-30 is estimated to exceed $8.8 million.
Timing and Action
- An estimated four years is anticipated to complete pre-construction/construction procedures and obtain zoning, financing and other approvals.
- Construction jobs, administrative positions and retail opportunities are anticipated as the zoning process moves closer to the building phase. Rochdale Village will hold job fairs and training programs will be available in an effort to hire from the community.
Residences and Common Spaces
- The complex will consist of 300+ Workforce and Senior apartments
- Studio to Three Bedrooms layouts will be available
- 300,000 sq. ft. graduated building levels range from four to eight stories high
- There’s rooftop gardens, green space and open-air decks
- 100 out of 165 parking spaces will be built specifically for Rochdale Village Cooperators.
- Prime retail space of over 20,000 sq. ft. with 15’ high ceilings
While early contender BRP Development is familiar with large-scale affordable housing and mixed-used construction in New York City, the principals proposed a ground lease that would have required Rochdale Village to enter a lengthy 99-year commitment and embed unrelated affordable housing units in this community’s coveted green space and parking lots.
The Briarwood Team, under the leadership of management team Bernard Warren and Alex Freedman, formerly of Rochdale Village, is spearheading project development for the proposed 137th Avenue property.
Mr. Warren is familiar with the Rochdale Village community having lived here for more than eight years. He actually started dating his wife when they lived in the same Group at Rochdale. Mr. Warren is a former member of the Jamaica NOW Committee, Vice President for the Jamaica YMCA and also serves as part of the executive leadership team of Harlem’s Webb & Brooker, Inc.
Other local mixed-use residential and retail development ventures that Mr. Warren has been involved with are the Moda Apartments located at 153-50 89th Avenue in Jamaica on Parson’s Boulevard and the Dallas BBQ (formerly City Rib).