Construction of a new affordable housing development will begin in downtown Jamaica in the coming months by Arker Companies of Floral Park.
While some residents at a Community Board 12 meeting on March 21, where the developer gave a presentation about the building, praised it as a much needed addition to the community, others had concerns about the lack of parking and why new apartments are going up when so many existing properties remain vacant.
The Rufus King Court project to be located at 148-19 90 Ave. will be nine stories tall with 65 units — 12 studio apartments, 15 one-bedrooms, 29 two-bedrooms, eight three-bedrooms, and one on-site superintendent’s unit. Monthly rents for the apartments will range from $716 for a studio to $1,276 for a three-bedroom.
The units will be rented to families having incomes ranging from $35,000 a year for a studio to almost $60,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. To address seniors’ needs, there will be a preference in renting for the mobility and visually impaired. Tenants will be selected by lottery.
“So, we are comfortable that there is a significant need in this community, and we will rent these units quickly,” developer Allan Arker said at the meeting, adding, “Queens is the most underserved market for affordable housing in the five boroughs.”
The residential zoning allows for the construction of the 70,000-square-foot building on the 14,500-square-foot lot, presently occupied by a vacant building. The name of the project comes from the property’s proximity to Rufus King Park, and it will take 21 to 24 months to complete, Arker said.
Amenities will include an outdoor recreation area, a community room, laundry room, bulk storage space for tenants, air conditioning for each unit, parking for 23 cars and a comprehensive security and surveillance system throughout the building.
In addition, the company will be arranging for social services to be provided to those with special needs and seniors to help with the activities of daily living on a regular basis.
The building will be constructed to meet high energy efficiency standards, including installing solar panels on the roof, which when complete, will likely produce up to 50 percent of the electricity for the building’s common areas.
“Our primary concern in this community is jobs — whether they are union jobs or non-union jobs,” said board member James Heyliger. “It would be helpful to us, if you would have a liaison from your company to local organizations, so that we could contact you for bidding opportunities.”
Arker said the company will work closely with CB 12 and its Land Use Committee to identify community-based contractors who wish to be considered for the project.
“We look forward to working with the community board and continuing to be good neighbors by supporting the Jamaica community in a meaningful way,” Arker said.
The project will cost approximately $18 million. Financing comes from federal low-income tax credits, which the company uses to raise equity to develop the project, combined with institutional financing derived from a private bank.
Board member Renee Hill was concerned about there being too few parking spaces, but Arker said the project meets the minimum requirements set by the city Department of Buildings.
“In this community there is an abundance of empty apartments and houses,” said Pamela Hazel, a Jamaica community activist. “Why can’t something be done so that they could be filled before we build more?”
Based on available data, the Arker Companies have determined that there are 600,000 households in the primary market area including those who live and work along Jamaica’s commercial corridor that would qualify for the apartments.
Cardinal Sandiford, chairman of the Land Use Committee, said he and his members are in favor of the project because “this is the first time we have gotten an application where the rental prices, in today’s market, are reasonable. Generally, when you get to a three-bedroom apartment, you’re around $2,000, so to have it around $1,200 is unusual today.”