The former Rockaway Courthouse — saved from its longtime sentence of stagnancy — has been given a second life.
The limestone and marble courthouse, located at 90-01 Beach Channel Drive, was originally constructed in 1932. But for the last 20 years, the building has remained vacant.
Now, the city is seeking interested buyers to reactivate and redevelop the 80-year-old historic structure.
“[This] will help both the city and the community implement a coordinated strategic plan for economic development for this critical part of Queens,” said Seth Pinsky, president of New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) on January 24. “We look forward to learning what creative New Yorkers have in mind for the former courthouse in the coming weeks and months.”
According to local leaders, the current site — which includes approximately 24,000-square-feet and access to mass transportation — holds the key to stimulating future economic growth and residential life.
“This great community resource has been on my radar for several years,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “This RFEI will set the stage for a real reuse plan of this former courthouse. It will become the latest addition to the continuing Rockaway renaissance that has brought new housing, recreational and retail development in recent years.”
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said the reactivation will also remove a longstanding “blight on the community.”
“For too long we’ve allowed it to sit vacant, hurting the community,” Goldfeder said. “Any redevelopment proposals are very welcomed. In Rockaway, we’re very excited about seeing something in that facility, for it to finally have some use.”
According to Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, one developer — Uri Kaufman of the Harmony Group — had already expressed interest even before the RFEI was issued to transform the courthouse into a surgical center.
“The board had a very favorable response to this proposal,” Gaska said. “We have always seen the Rockaway Courthouse as a monument to city neglect. It was once was a beautiful building, and we’re pleased that the city is moving to try and find someone to renovate and occupy it. We’re waiting to see if any other proposals come in, and we’ll see what happens.”
Kaufman could not be reached as of press time.