Hurricane Sandy was the last straw for many residents of Ocean Village, a housing project in the Rockaways. Heralded as state of the art when it opened in 1972, this beachside campus of high-rises and four-story townhouses had, over the years, taken a nose dive, the victim of bad management, crime and rot. Sandy left homes flooded, and poor tenants bereft of electricity and hot water. Residents who could, fled.
I visited the project not long ago. Rechristened Arverne View, the place is almost unrecognizable: Apartments are occupied once again. Hallways, kitchens, bathrooms and electrical systems are refurbished; lobbies opened up with big windows; a floodwall installed; the landscaping upgraded, with a broad promenade to the beach; and leaky facades clad with new, waterproof, energy-efficient panels. (Energy bills have dropped 30 percent.)
What happened? A new owner, L&M, a developer of subsidized housing, closed on a deal to buy the property two weeks after the storm, when one-third of Ocean Village’s 1,093 apartments were vacant. The company poured $60 million into a renovation.[…]