Work begins soon on Rufus Pk. apts

Edward McKay speaks about the need for groups to work together as Jacqueline Boyce looks on at a Community Board 12 meeting. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Real estate planners are ready to begin construction in the spring on a nine-story, 65-unit affordable housing development near Jamaica’s Rufus King Park, and while they are confident there will be plenty of buyers, community members are not completely sold on the project.

Representatives from the Arker Cos. presented their plans to Community Board 12 last week for the Rufus King Court development, at 148-19 90th Ave., even though it does not require board approval because the project is being built as-of-right.

District Manager Yvonne Reddick said company went before the board as a courtesy to the community.

Alan Arker said the building would contain 12 studios as well as 15 one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom apartments. About 60 percent of the funding for the $18 million project was provided through federal low-income housing tax credits, he said, and average monthly rents will range from about $716 for a studio to $1,276 for a three-bedroom.

The property is being developed in the Special Downtown Jamaica District, established in 2007 to encourage affordable housing near the transit hub. Arker said there are more than 6,000 households in the project’s primary market that would qualify for the apartments.

“We are comfortable there’s a significant need in the community and we will rent these units quickly,” he said.

But community member Pamela Hazel said she believed the area already has an abundance of empty apartments. She raised concerns that the building would eventually fall into disrepair, and in the end the only ones who would benefit from it would be the developers.

Cardinal Sandiford, chairman of the board’s Land Use Committee, said the building would have an on-site superintendent, which is unusual for similar projects nearby. He said downtown Jamaica has problems with parking, and the 23 spots the building will provide is the bare minimum required. The building’s reasonable rents made it unique, even among affordable projects, he said.

“We need affordable housing in Jamaica,” he said, recommending the development for board approval.

Board members Rene Cheatham-Hill and Constance Robinson-Turner had reservations about how the company maintains its properties and the impact new residents would have on local hospitals.

The board chose to table the vote on recommending the development to a later date in order to further assess its effect on the community.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 2:30 am, March 29, 2012
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