Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Residents Support Technodome Plan
By Merle English

More than 300 residents from across the Rockaways gave unanimous support Tuesday to Destination Technodome, a giant sports and recreation complex that a Canadian developer wants to build in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area.

The residents swelled attendance at a meeting of Community Board 14 to hear Abraham Reichmann, chairman and chief executive of Heathmount Arts and Entertainment Corp. in Toronto, outline his plans for the 2-million-square-foot project. He said that once completed, the complex would create more than 28,000 full-time jobs, providing employment for everyone on the job-starved peninsula; generate more than $300 million in annual city and state taxes; and attract 2 million new tourists.

Reichmann called the $1.2 billion project, which would occupy more than 50 acres, "an unrivaled international destination" for the next millennium. "The world has never seen anything like it," he said.

The gathering cheered after watching a video about what Technodome would offer year-round, including bungee-jumping, rafting, mountain climbing, movies; rides and entertainment areas that duplicate such places as Las Vegas and New Orleans' Bourbon Street.

"The whole peninsula has joined together to support one thing in the Rockaways," said Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach).

The Technodome project, however, is still very much in the formative stages. The state and city have said they cannot offer money for its major infrastructure needs, such as roads and sewers, until it has been reassured the developer has the funds to see the project through.

Queens Borough President Claire Shulman said she would meet with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in a few days "to draw up agreements" between the city and Reichmann's organization.

"We're all working very hard on this project, because we believe it will be extremely helpful to the Rockaways and the areas around, and the Rockaways will come back to the prestigious area it was," Shulman said.

Bruce Brodoff, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp., could not confirm if a meeting is set.

Charles Gargano, chairman of Empire State Development Corp., the state's economic development agency that recommended the Arverne site, said the agency is waiting to be sure Heathmount has "the financial wherewithal."

"We're very supportive of this project," said Gargano, "but there are some gaps here. Before we make any kind of commitment to do any infrastructure improvement we have to be guaranteed there is going to be a project there. We spoke to Shulman last week and conveyed this to her. She's trying to get them to provide us with whatever we need."

Some $250 million would be needed for infrastructure work, Pheffer said.

Apparently positive that Technodome will materialize, Reichmann said he hoped to break ground in 18 months. He promised that peninsula residents would receive priority for jobs.

Deputy Borough President Peter Magnani, said transportation issues to cope with visitors are being studied.

Many Rockaways residents said they wanted to see Technodome happen.

One man said he was coming out of retirement to help the project.

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