NEW DEVELOPMENT: Saltmeadow Opens in Far Rockaway; Watermark Making a Statement in LIC

Waterfront sites are prime locations, and one in Far Rockaway, N.Y., in the borough of Queens, offered direct access to an inlet that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. But it presented challenges.

A previous developer had abandoned the site in 2005 after having completed some work on the property, and in 2012, Hurricane Sandy battered what remained. In addition, development on either side of the site consisted of a quirky mix of buildings.

When New York City–based JDS Development Group purchased the 2-acre-plus land in 2015, its goal was to build a multifamily apartment building, but one very different from the firm’s typical high-rise, high-end development. The team wanted this property to appeal instead to young professionals and families. “We were interested in bringing new quality, craftsmanship, and more modern design to the neighborhood, since there hadn’t been any [there] in years,” says Marci Clark, director of marketing and communications for JDS.

Weather Resilience a Must

Because of the lack of public transportation in the area, JDS and its architecture team, CetraRuddy, also New York based, knew garages would be essential to the apartment complex. They also realized that a waterfront site in a floodplain would continue to present design problems. Their solution? Low-density units that recall the two-family homes nearby, as well as design references to the summer beach bungalows of long ago.

Each of the 30, two-family, three-level townhouses was designed to stand aboveground with a shared garage located at the base to contend with possible water challenges. The first level of the homes would house a two-bedroom apartment; the second and third levels, a three-bedroom unit. The project was named Saltmeadow in a nod to the area’s cordgrass and is located at 162 Beach 5th St.

Low Maintenance With Local Flavor

Because of the salt in both the water and the air, CetraRuddy decided to accent part of Saltmeadow’s exteriors in beveled Western red cedar planks, which weather naturally and suggest beach homes. The team speced the remaining, major portion of the cladding as fiber-cement architectural lap siding, in crisp white.

The firm designed a run of stairs up to the duplexes’ shared front door in locally quarried, durable bluestone. The choice adds a nostalgic touch that recalls old New York brownstones, whose iconic stoops were gathering spots. The same bluestone was used for an accent on the façades. Porthole-style windows add yet more nautical flair. The firm also clad each building’s base in quartzite and sedimentary rock, to mimic the area’s jetties.

Spelling “L-u-x-e” With Materials and Appliances

Details can play a major role in helping differentiate competing apartment properties. To set Saltmeadow apart from nearby competition, JDS and CetraRuddy chose marble countertops, limed-oak floors, stone-lined shower floors, and cabinetry constructed of high-end textured laminate. They also speced large windows to let in lots of light, views, and air, and selected top-of-the-line appliances.

“Such decisions allow the developer to charge a few more dollars for rent, but they also make the units so much more appealing,” says John Cetra, founding member, along with wife and architecture partner Nancy Ruddy, of CetraRuddy. To gain some privacy, planters were used to divide the rear yards, Cetra says.

A New Definition of Beach Living

The Saltmeadow team designed the apartment interiors in the popular open-plan style and planned some kitchens for members of the area’s Orthodox Jewish population, with two dishwashers, ranges with Sabbath-mode controls, and adequate cabinetry to house multiple dishes.

The units average $2,700 monthly for a two-bedroom and $4,200 for a three-bedroom. Leasing began last October. Cetra is delighted.

“I’ve always felt that a lower-density development on a more limited budget is what more architects need to pay attention to, and this one certainly excels,” Cetra says. “We may have had to work a bit harder to find materials, in some cases, but it was worth it.”

Most of the three-bedroom units have a balcony and access to a rooftop terrace as well as water views. The buildings share a dock, and everyone has access to the reconstructed boardwalk on Rockaway Beach that Sandy had destroyed.


By Barbara Ballinger, Multifamily Executive

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