View Full Version : Jamaica Development

February 23rd, 2003, 04:28 AM
The new Jamaica Center aims to give Jamaica an identity visible from the nearby expressway and rail routes.

The project is phased to allow for incremental development. Phase One focuses on the sites immediately surrounding the transportation center.

A bird's eye view shows how the Oval connects the new development to its surroundings.

As symbolic heart of the development, the Corporate Oval is scaled to auto traffic, yet flanked by pedestrian plazas and office related retail. To emphasize airport related business opportunities, a sculptural feature is planned that ties the area to JFK Airport.

Along Archer Avenue, north of the transportation center, a new market area is planned for local merchants displaced by redevelopment.

To the north, the Mews enhance the approach to the terminal and link to existing retail areas. Street lighting makes reference to airport approach landing systems.

The master plan for Jamaica Center identifies 16 sites surrounding the transportation center for redevelopment.

February 23rd, 2003, 11:57 AM

February 23rd, 2003, 02:41 PM
This is great! I live in Eastern Queens and the whole Jamaica area is a mess. *I hope they will make some sort of transit plaza that considers the residents of Queens who have to navigate a confusing array of bus terminals just to commute. *It is nice to have the airtrain connect there, and the LIRR terminal does need a lot of improvements. *Jamaica should be the gateway to Queens, and it's good to see a plan that keeps that in mind.

February 23rd, 2003, 03:41 PM
How exactly does the airtrain work? *Is it non stop from Jamaica to Kennedy Airport? *And could one conceivably go from Kennedy to the LIRR via the airtrain and Jamaia station? *Thanks

February 23rd, 2003, 04:12 PM
The system will have 10 stations.

A loop with 6 stations will link all the JFK terminals.

A 3.3 mile extension will have 3 stations: Federal Circle-rental cars, long-term/employee parking lot, and Howard Beach (connection to MTA subway A train).

A 3 mile extension will run from JFK along the Van Wyke Expwy to Jamaica Station (connection to LIRR)

March 30th, 2003, 07:37 AM
I've read recently that an airport connection to the new WTC is now becoming more of a reality.

More on Jamaica....(Daily News)

Office plan set to fly

Jamaica bldg. is 1st phase of JFK project


The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has received $21 million in federal tax credits to attract private funding for a 500,000-square-foot office building in downtown Jamaica, the corporation's chairman has announced.

The office building, sponsored by the corporation with its developer partner, LCOR Inc., is the first phase of the 4.5-million-square-foot JFK Corporate Square, a mixed-use development that will rise adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica station and the new JFK AirTrain station.

"By attracting private investment to JFK Corporate Square, these credits will help fulfill Jamaica's potential for economic growth offered by its proximity to JFK International Airport," Greater Jamaica Development Corp. Chairman Tazewell Smith said.

The structure would be the first privately developed Class A office space in Queens in more than a decade.

Smith explained that the tax incentives were competitively awarded through a new federal program. The initiative allows community development organizations to raise equity capital from investors and pass along tax credits to the investors over a seven-year period.

The corporation chairman said last week that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) - a member of the House Financial Services Committee and a sponsor of the new tax program - was instrumental in securing the federal incentives for JFK Corporate Square.

"We applaud Congressman Meeks for his vigorous efforts on behalf of economic revitalization in downtown Jamaica," said Smith.

"Downtown Jamaica is a high priority for me, and its vitality is key to our community's progress. I look forward to continuing to be a strong advocate with all levels of government to promote investment in the 6th Congressional district," Meeks said.

Of five city-based organizations that received a total of $201 million of the new tax credits, Greater Jamaica Development Corp. is the only entity that will use the credits exclusively in the city, Meeks said.

"The first step [at the Corporate Square] is AirTrain itself, and it should be running by the end of the year," Greater Jamaica Development Corp. President Carlisle Towery said. "It is being built so that the air rights can be used for a hotel.

"We are trying to build an airport village. This is a very good place for it because AirTrain ties this area to the airport with an eight-minute ride to the first terminal."

LCOR Senior Vice President David Sigman said that "from the outset, we had counted on these federal tax credits as an important component of JFK Corporate Square's formula for success."

Sigman said LCOR is working "in partnership with the state, the city, the Port Authority and the Jamaica community to turn this initial project into an engine for creating an airport village around AirTrain."

The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. is a nonprofit, local development organization founded in 1967 by business, civic and community leaders to plan and facilitate the revitalization of downtown Jamaica.

LCOR, a national real-estate development company specializing in large projects and in public-private partnerships, completed the $1.4billion Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport in 2001.

Complex Undertaking: Rendering shows planned 500,000-square-foot office building, first phase of JFK Corporate Square in downtown Jamaica.

TLOZ Link5
March 30th, 2003, 10:11 AM
I count 17 stories on the rendering.

March 30th, 2003, 12:38 PM
Good idea, but... ugly.

March 30th, 2003, 01:00 PM
The whole area around Jamaica could hardly look more run-down or unappealing. *Visitors who use the AirTrain will get one unhappy first impression of the self-proclaimed "Capital of the Universe."

Unfortunately, those same visitors go from the frying pan into the fire: Jamaica to the abyss of Penn Station. *Ouch. *Welcome to NYC. *All that's missing is a large sign proclaiming, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

March 30th, 2003, 01:28 PM
I don't mind the stark red. It'll stick out and add some color. The first renderings are even worse, showing dreary cheap designs.

JD, don't you think there's justified hope for improvement?

March 30th, 2003, 02:17 PM
Sure, christian, I think there's always hope for improvement. *Life would be quite drab otherwise.

But...it's not easy to be optimistic when it comes to the aesthetics of New York's infrastructure. *Jamaica Station and Penn Station are both (relatively) recent designs, and look at their cheapness and abject lack of grace and coherence. *I sincerely hope for better, but the failings of those two portals have been well-documented for years and years. *I have no reason to think a few buildings tacked on in the Jamaica neighborhood will bring order out of the chaos, and I certainly have no reason to think Penn Station -- err, Moynihan Station -- will be done in the next decade.

So...call me pessimist who would desperately like to be convinced otherwise. *

March 30th, 2003, 02:40 PM
It looks as if the station and immediate area in Jamaica will be quite modern-looking. *If they ever do the planned redevelopment of Penn (Moynihan) station, then vistors will have a relatively futuristic and almost European experience as they Schlepp their luggage from AirTrain to LIRR and when they arrive in Manhattan. *As long as they don't look out the window too much along the way.

March 30th, 2003, 02:46 PM
You're quite right. *In ten to fifteen years -- let's err on the side of caution -- the AirTrain/Jamaica/Moynihan Station might give the impression NYC is not a third-world nation.

Your admonition against looking out the window is well-placed. *Perhaps technology will have advanced sufficiently to pipe pleasing images into the train as chugs through Queens. *

March 30th, 2003, 03:00 PM
Quote: from JD on 2:17 pm on Mar. 30, 2003
*I have no reason to think a few buildings tacked on in the Jamaica neighborhood will bring order out of the chaos, and I certainly have no reason to think Penn Station -- err, Moynihan Station -- will be done in the next decade.

Thankfully, that doesn't mean it won't get done. *And with patience, you'll be convinced eventually.

TLOZ Link5
March 30th, 2003, 07:39 PM
Quote: from JD on 2:17 pm on Mar. 30, 2003
Sure, christian, I think there's always hope for improvement. *Life would be quite drab otherwise.

But...it's not easy to be optimistic when it comes to the aesthetics of New York's infrastructure. *Jamaica Station and Penn Station are both (relatively) recent designs, and look at their cheapness and abject lack of grace and coherence. *I sincerely hope for better, but the failings of those two portals have been well-documented for years and years. *I have no reason to think a few buildings tacked on in the Jamaica neighborhood will bring order out of the chaos, and I certainly have no reason to think Penn Station -- err, Moynihan Station -- will be done in the next decade.

So...call me pessimist who would desperately like to be convinced otherwise. *

Considering that one of my classmates has a personality shockingly similar to yours, I for one will just call you our little ray of sunshine, which is his nickname also ;)

Now if only there was a Daria avatar :biggrin:

March 31st, 2003, 01:09 PM
I went over to the Jamaica area to apply for jury duty last November, and one of the 7-floor office towers was topped out. There will surely be more to follow; Jamaica's looking good! :biggrin:

July 6th, 2003, 10:52 PM
July 6, 2003

Change at Jamaica


A 263-foot-long arch over the L.I.R.R. platforms at Jamaica Station will frame a mezzanine bridge leading to the new AirTrain terminal.

"That's my favorite part - the windows,'' Stacey Simpkins said the other day as she sat on a maple bench in a luminous bay outside a courtroom at the new Queens Family Court in Jamaica. The architects began with the common-sensical notion that a family courthouse ought to be as comfortable as possible for family members like Ms. Simpkins, who spend so many hours waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

The answer offered by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and Gruzen Samton was to pull the waiting rooms out of the interior and set them into 20 three-story window bays with floor-to-ceiling glass, 10 looking across Jamaica Avenue to the King Manor Museum and Park and 10 looking across Archer Avenue at the ceaseless flow of the Long Island Rail Road.

The view from the courthouse also offers a window on Jamaica's future: a silvery structural whale breaching gracefully in the distance over Sutphin Boulevard.

It is the mezzanine bridge connecting the Jamaica Station to the new AirTrain terminal, designed by Robert I. Davidson, chief architect of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is also rebuilding the L.I.R.R. portion of the station in collaboration with the railroad.

The $1.9 billion light rail system connects Jamaica to the airport, three miles away, along an elevated viaduct over the median of the Van Wyck Expressway. The system is to open by year's end. On the passenger platform, an ``AirTrain to All Terminals'' sign is already illuminated.

``This could be a catalyst for new development,'' said Charles A. Gargano, the vice chairman of the Port Authority and chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation. ``I don't envision people just passing through.''

It remains to be seen whether AirTrain will spark a corporate park and whether that - together with courthouses, federal offices and laboratories, York College, the planned Jamaica Performing Arts Center and a year-old multiplex and shopping center - will amount to critical mass.

But clearly, Jamaica is changing.

``The objective all along is to rebuild it as a regional center,'' said F. Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. That begins with making the case that Jamaica is an ``airport village,'' he said.

LCOR Inc., developers of the new Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport, are already convinced. In partnership with Greater Jamaica, they are planning a 16-story, 500,000-square-foot office building, Tower 1 of JFK Corporate Square, across Sutphin Boulevard from the AirTrain station.

Fox & Fowle Architects are designing the building, which is expected to cost around $200 million. The property is to be condemned by the state, in part to exempt it from industrial-only zoning. There would be about 20,000 square feet of retail space and 250 parking spaces above grade.

Tentative leasing agreements have been reached with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and an ``aviation tenant'' for almost all the office space, said David A. Sigman, senior vice president of LCOR. (The word around Jamaica is that the aviation tenant is JetBlue Airways, but Mr. Sigman would not disclose the identity.) Negotiations over financial incentives should be complete by this fall, he said.

``Kennedy is very space-constrained,'' he said, ``and there's not room to do the kind of commercial space you see at other airports. We saw Jamaica as being a viable place, with this airport village concept.''

As it happens, the Port Authority already thinks of the AirTrain station as Kennedy's 10th terminal, said Steven P. Plate, director of the New York airport access program, as if the experience of flight begins on 94th Avenue. ``The logic,'' he said, ``is to bring the airport out to the people.''

The project includes the AirTrain terminal itself. This is a 240-foot-long, glass-walled passenger platform under a barrel-vaulted skylight with eight openings on each side to match the doors of a four-car train. The platform connects to a granite-clad fourth-floor lobby that has room for at least 12 airline check-in stands.

Passengers arriving from Kennedy will be able to proceed past a spacious 60-foot-high atrium and on to the mezzanine bridge, from which they can catch an L.I.R.R. train. Or they can cross the bridge on a moving walkway and head downstairs for buses and the E, J and Z trains. They will also be able to descend through the atrium on glass-enclosed elevators to a pick-up and drop-off area on 94th Avenue.

The AirTrain lobby is part of a seven-story, 230,000-square-foot structure known as the Vertical Circulation Building, clad in faceted reflective glass. A two-story-high control center for the Long Island Rail Road will be housed there, as will L.I.R.R. offices.

THE structure has been designed to accept an additional 10 stories with 20,000 square feet of space each. Roughly the same height as LCOR's planned tower, it could be used by airport-related back offices, other commercial tenants or a 250-room hotel, the alternative preferred by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

By far the most arresting feature of the complex is the 263-foot-long, 72-foot-high arch over the L.I.R.R. platforms, which are being rehabilitated as part of the project.

Mr. Gargano held out as a distant possibility a direct connection at Jamaica between AirTrain and L.I.R.R. tracks. That would permit an uninterrupted trip between Kennedy and the new Pennsylvania Station (known officially as Daniel Patrick Moynihan Station), which is to open in 2008. But Mr. Gargano allowed that daunting technical hurdles would have to be cleared, and even then AirTrain could not run on the Long Island tracks during peak periods.

A seamless train ride would hold appeal for travelers bound to and from Manhattan, but not to the Greater Jamaica group. ``We said, `We'd like a couple of seams in it, please,''' Mr. Towery said. That would underscore Jamaica's role as a destination in its own right, not just a way station.

Several recent projects make that point. Public investment has included the enormous Joseph P. Addabbo Federal Building of 1989, the Civil Court of 1997 and the Food and Drug Administration Laboratory and Offices of 2000. Last year, the Mattone Group opened the 411,000-square-foot Jamaica Center, across Parsons Boulevard from the Addabbo Building, with a 15-screen National Amusements multiplex, a Gap, an Old Navy, a Walgreens and other retailers. The company described the $82 million project as the largest private investment in Jamaica in more than 30 years.

One of the most elusive development projects until now has involved an antebellum landmark, the First Reformed Church of Jamaica, an abandoned double-towered, red-brick sanctuary nestled between the Addabbo Building and Family Court.

``We've been nursing the thing for 15 years,'' Mr. Towery said. The development corporation was responsible for the pretty landscaped setting, Jamaica Green, that now surrounds the Romanesque church.

Like the King Manor Museum across Jamaica Avenue, the church speaks to Jamaica's deep historical roots. A plaque at its entrance notes that it was ``dedicated to the worship of the triune God October 6th 1859.''

The congregation moved out two decades ago. A plan to link the church to the Addabbo Building for use as an auditorium was abandoned by the federal government, Mr. Towery said, and then the city allowed the structure to deteriorate. Some of its stained-glass windows were badly damaged during this period but most survive, though they are now boarded up. They include a window depicting the Good Samaritan, a composition credited to Frederick Stymetz Lamb of the J.&R. Lamb Studios family.

The current plan is to turn the building into the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, a $10.2 million project of the city's Cultural Affairs and Design and Construction Departments. It is to be managed jointly by the Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and the Black Spectrum Theater Company. The architects are Wank Adams Slavin Associates.

The space is now almost as bare as it possibly could be, stripped down to bricks and timbers. As part of the renovation, a 400-seat theater will be constructed within the space under a special wire-frame ceiling known as a tension grid that will allow visitors to see all the way up to the gabled roof. The Good Samaritan window will be moved to a new vestibule at the entrance, where it will be much more prominent.

Construction is expected to begin in October and take about two years, said a spokeswoman for the cultural affairs agency.

The goal, said the architect Stephen E.v. Gottlieb, is ``to keep the basic integrity of the interior main space so that you can read the nave to the rafters, while providing for the theater and community uses.''

Mr. Towery envisions programs at the performing arts center at which children under court supervision could perform community service. ``We hope it will be used by Family Court a lot,'' he said.

At the opening of the $104 million court building earlier this year, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye of the State Court of Appeals acknowledged that families in Queens had been forced for too long to ``contend with the overcrowded and dilapidated conditions of a building that was never meant to be used as a courthouse, but was originally built as a public library,'' at 89-14 Parsons Boulevard.

THE 280,000-square-foot replacement, at 151-20 Jamaica Avenue, is divided into a courthouse, with 16 courtrooms and seven hearing rooms, and a curving office building known as the City Agency Facility. The project manager was the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

The five-story courthouse is organized around a cylindrical atrium crisscrossed by escalators, within which is a suspended sculpture, ``Katul Katul'' by Ursula von Rydingsvard, installed under the city's Percent for Art program. At the top of each escalator, visitors can see windows ahead - park views on one side, track views on the other. It is almost impossible to get lost.

``What the escalators do is provide a continuum of spatial experience so you always see where you are in the building,'' said Ian Bader of Pei Cobb Freed. ``The idea of the courthouse as a labyrinth is one of the most terrifying images one can imagine.''

Mr. Bader acknowledged indebtedness to Arthur C. Erickson's 23-year-old Law Courts Building at Robson Square in Vancouver, British Columbia. Courtrooms are set into tiered steps under a sloping glass roof, creating a great sense of openness.

In Queens, first-time visitors make a loop around the base of the rotunda, stopping by the petitions desk, then the assignment part, then the processing desk to pick up court papers. The assignment courtroom has no windows. A skylight would have been possible, Mr. Bader said, but was vetoed because it would have cast the judge in silhouette, creating a formidably distant figure.

In addition to waist-high railings, the rotunda openings on each floor are glazed from floor to ceiling, in part to prevent anyone from being pushed over the side, since rage can burn fiercely among those whose cases are before the court. That enclosure still allows light to flow through.

``Given the high-anxiety nature of the activities and proceedings in the building - particularly those involving children - every attempt was made to achieve a warm, well-lighted and quiet environment,'' wrote Jordan Gruzen of Gruzen Samton.

That was why so much attention was paid to the waiting areas. ``The first dimensional decision was, what is a comfortable distance face-to-face?'' Mr. Bader said. ``The entire modulation of the facade is based on the spacing of benches.''

It turned out that eight feet was a workable distance; close enough to accommodate large amounts of seating but not so close that it would make strangers feel uncomfortable facing one another.

Given the prospect of damage from ballpoint pens, the architects encountered resistance to their proposal to make the benches of wood. But they prevailed.

The waiting areas are divided subtly by glass partitions so that sparring family members can be kept apart and the most troublesome charges can be kept within close distance of a court officer.

Because the waiting room bays project two feet and have windows on the sides, it is possible to stand at the far corner of the building and look through all 10 bays in a row, creating an even greater sense of transparency. One 12-by-12-foot window is filled, like a painting frame, with the crown of a tulip tree that stands at the entrance lane to the farmhouse of Rufus King, an early United States senator and ambassador to Great Britain, who helped frame the Constitution and battled slavery.

``It's not that architecture can solve the problems of the people who come to the building,'' Mr. Bader said. ``But the offering of windows and Rufus King Park, that's really the contribution we could make.''

Standing across the street from the courthouse on a recent inspection tour, Mr. Bader spied a middle-aged woman in sunglasses and white jumpsuit, leaning on a handrail at one of the big windows. There was no way to know her inner turmoil, but from this vantage, she looked to be at peace as she gazed over the park. ``That's what it's all about,'' Mr. Bader said. ``Just to have done that makes the whole thing worthwhile.''

Inscribed on the facade of Queens Family Court are quotations of Justice Thurgood Marshall. ``Courtrooms,'' he said, ``are perhaps the most accurate barometer of the extent to which we have succeeded in building a just society.''

Upstairs, Ms. Simpkins, who lives in Brooklyn, waited for a case to unfold involving a family member. Daylight reached across an almost unbroken southern horizon and suffused the space around her. She approved. ``Nobody,'' she said, ``likes to look at a brick wall.

A cylindrical atrium runs through the new Queens Family Court. Suspended within it is a sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard.

The old First Reformed Church is to be the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. Though damaged, most of the windows survive.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

(Edited by Christian Wieland at 11:06 pm on July 6, 2003)

July 7th, 2003, 04:36 PM
Quote: from Agglomeration on 1:09 pm on Mar. 31, 2003
I went over to the Jamaica area to apply for jury duty last November, and one of the 7-floor office towers was topped out. There will surely be more to follow; Jamaica's looking good! :biggrin:

Sounds good!

July 7th, 2003, 05:09 PM
Are a lot of the buildings of the JFK office park proposed, approved or under construction? *

TLOZ Link5
July 7th, 2003, 05:15 PM
"A seamless train ride would hold appeal for travelers bound to and from Manhattan, but not to the Greater Jamaica group. 'We said, "We'd like a couple of seams in it, please,''' Mr. Towery said. That would underscore Jamaica's role as a destination in its own right, not just a way station. "

This might prove to be a roadblock to the creation of a one-seat link to the airport. *Jamaica Center is currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts, and they fear that making Jamaica a through-station on AirTrain will kill any incentive for Corporate Square office tenants to be there.

July 9th, 2003, 04:06 PM
Jamaica is certainly a destination. *I know that's where most of the tens of millions of visitors to NYC want to spend the first leg of their journey. *Lots to see and do.

[sigh] *The really sad thing is that arguments like this will have to be taken seriously. *Some legislative body will propose a one-seat ride to the airport (something most other great international cities possess NOW), and the "Greater Jamaica group" will howl bloody murder. *

All hail Jamaica!

July 10th, 2003, 09:37 AM
Once they build a Sandals Resort somewhere betwixt the projects, I'm sure we'll see folks flocking there - I mean, c'mon, it's Jamaica. *

July 10th, 2003, 09:40 AM
Do you often go there? What I've seen isn't bad.

October 13th, 2003, 02:32 PM
Change AT Jamaica

Sutphin Boulevard sees a revival with AirTrain's opening and a business improvement district

By Matt Donnelly

October 13, 2003

Construction workers at the site of the AirTrain terminal at 94th Avenue and Sutphin Blvd in Jamaica.

Ben Harris is talking on the phone, but he's more focused on the group of guys loitering outside on the sidewalk. They block his view of Sutphin Boulevard, known for its commuters and its courthouses, and keep passersby from viewing his business.

An hour after police chased them away, they are back outside his Early Bird Car and Limo Service, and this time, they're in Harris' front door, and they have some words for him.

"They said, 'You think you've got a problem? We'll give you a problem,' " Harris recalled. He told them to leave, called police and waited, saying he understood if they didn't show up. Police in Jamaica are busy, and resolving a squabble between a small business and a group of unemployed men - a daily dispute, Harris said - isn't a top priority.

"Merchants are terrified of these people, and it scares me, too, but I confront them anyway," said Harris, who has run his taxi and limo service on Sutphin Boulevard for 22 years.

The problems of business - from Maloney's Bar to McDonald's - in this section of Jamaica have gone the same route for years: Owners or managers complain to their landlords, who then lobby the police, the borough president, the mayor. Meanwhile, the problems, like the loiterers, linger along Sutphin Boulevard: overflowing garbage, dark streets, poor sidewalks.

Now, those owners and managers say two things are giving them hope: the new Sutphin Boulevard business improvement district, or BID, and the new AirTrain station, which could bring 35,000 people a day to one of Queens' best-known communities. Jamaica, once the premier shopping district for many Long Islanders as well as city residents, could see its fortunes reviving with the opening late this year of the $1.9-billion AirTrain and rehab of the adjoining Long Island Rail Road station. AirTrain will link residents to Kennedy Airport, and it already has attracted at least one developer, LCOR, which plans a 500,000-square-foot office building at Sutphin and 94th Avenue, across from the station.

More than two years in the making, the business improvement district - stretching along Sutphin from Hillside Avenue to 97th Avenue - is expected to hire security officers to patrol for loiterers and other problems, provide maintenance workers to keep trash cans from spilling onto sidewalks and build informational kiosks to promote businesses.

Despite drawing many supporters, the BID also has its detractors, including Jamaica's city councilman, who is concerned that the additional tax costs will hurt companies, from bakeries to fish markets and restaurants to children's clothing stores.

More important than cost, supporters say, it will give the businesses along Sutphin Boulevard a sense of unity and a singular and more powerful voice to make demands to the police, the borough and the city.

"The feeling is, if we have a BID, we'll have more authority," Harris said.

A business improvement district is an area where businesses agree to pay an additional tax to supplement services provided by the city. Property and sales taxes paid to the city and the state fund road repairs, sidewalk cleanup and police salaries, but those services sometimes fall short of businesses' demands. A BID creates a second, more focused "government" - funded for, elected by and answerable to the participating businesses. Sutphin Boulevard's will be the eighth in Queens and the third in Jamaica. There are 12 in Brooklyn, 17 in Manhattan and three in the Bronx.

"The thing about a BID is, if it doesn't work, you can always dissolve it," said Joy Tomchin, a BID co-chairwoman and co-owner of a Sutphin Boulevard retail and commercial building across the street from the Jamaica Courthouse. "But it shows how successful they are that that's never happened to a BID in New York."

Janet Barkan, director of the Jamaica Center Improvement Association, said her BID on Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin to 169th Street puts up holiday lights in the winter - for multiple reasons. "One reason to celebrate the season is that it gets dark so early, the lights provide security and almost create a sense of home," she said. A BID "provides things that you take for granted - trees, planters, things that brighten the cityscape and make it look nice."

Business owners are already hitting the streets to learn what businesses and residents hope the new district will accomplish. April Jones, owner of Coleman's Daycare and a 35-year resident of Jamaica, said she's eager for change along the boulevard. A BID co-chairwoman, Jones has been attending meetings and working with business leaders and public officials for two years to make the Sutphin Boulevard BID a reality.

"I'm going to be out there speaking to people and finding out what they want," said Jones, who wants to learn what would draw people more willing to patronize businesses in the area.

Even before it is completely approved, Jones said she and other businesses supportive of the BID plan to pool money to deck the boulevard in holiday lights. "People will really know it [the BID] is taking place."

But businesses along Sutphin also hope the BID will provide the intangibles they have learned not to take for granted: a sense of pride and security in their neighborhood.

Owners first got the idea to form the district two years ago when the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., another nongovernmental business, presented a carrot to businesses: a $700,000 grant to improve the streetscape, pieced together from city, state and federal funds. The catch: To receive the money, businesses would have to agree to maintain all the neighborhood's capital improvements.

"It's going to make a tremendous difference on Sutphin," said Jessica Baker, project manager with Greater Jamaica Development Corp. for the Sutphin effort. "We want to stand behind them and help provide the infrastructure, then basically step out of the way once the BID has been approved."

Robin Eshaghpour, owner of Sutphin Properties, took on the job of going door-to-door to convince his neighbors along the southern end of Sutphin to sign on to the BID. The 35-year-old Iran native grew up working in his parents' liquor store on Sutphin and now owns several properties on the street. His most recent acquisition is a 400,000-square-foot office and retail building across from the AirTrain station.

"I'd like to see increased sanitation, increased security, a more uniform presence on the storefronts - make it a little bit neater, more inviting so [LIRR and AirTrain] passengers don't have tunnel vision and go straight from the subway to the bus" or train, said Eshaghpour, who serves as the new BID's co-chairman.

"There's not a major amount of crime, but there's a lot of loitering," he added. "It's the biggest complaint I get from my tenants" which includes the boulevard's only McDonald's. They have asked for increased security for a long time.

The BID had the support of most of its 110 businesses in a springtime vote, plus nods from Community Board 12 and the city's planning commission, which approved it Aug. 27. In the next month, the district will come before the city council for final approval. After that, it will require OKs from a few state agencies, but both Sutphin business and Greater Jamaica Development Corp. officials are confident the BID will be up and running by next summer. A district management association of elected business leaders will govern the BID and hire an executive director to run its day-to-day operations.

Several public officials in the neighborhood have stood behind the district, speaking in support as well as providing their approval.

"I believe it's going to be a win- win situation; it's only going to improve that area," said the late Community Board 12 chairman James Davis in an August interview. Davis, 46, who was chairman for 11 years and died of a heart attack Aug. 4, hoped capital improvements to the streets would serve residents as well as commuters.

Other officials, however, have grown skeptical of another tax burden on business. Democratic Councilman Allan Jennings, who represents Jamaica, was initially supportive and helped to convince businesses on the southern end to join. But since the city passed an 18.5 percent property tax hike last fall, he changed his mind and has vowed to vote against the BID.

"I think the BID is a good idea, but because of the property tax hike and the economy the way it is, I think we should postpone the BID a year," Jennings said. He also said more businesses along Sutphin oppose the BID than support it, but had little evidence to support this assertion. "What sense is there in having a BID if we're going to put people out of business?"

Yet the co-chairmen said the BID's cost is relatively small, though they acknowledge the price tag was an early obstacle. If adopted, businesses along Sutphin will pay $68 per linear foot of space along the boulevard. The typical small business has about 20 feet and a yearly bill of $1,360, which advocates say is comparable to other BIDs in the city. The Sutphin BID itself has 2,575 feet and an annual budget of about $175,000.

The money will pay for and maintain new street signs, better sidewalks, garbage collection and most importantly, private security. A few days after calling the police on loiterers, Harris watched from his window as plainclothes detectives patted down and cuffed another group of men. Harris didn't make the call to police this time, he said; one of his neighbors probably did.

"With a BID comes more expenses, but you know, that's what it's going to take," Harris said. "It's going to be worth the effort to make this a better to place to shop, to do business and to work."

A view looking South on Sutphin Boulevard toward Jamaica Avenue. Directly ahead is AirTrain terminal construction, a project that is credited with helping spur some redevelopment of Jamaica.

A view looking North on Sutphin Boulevard from the Long Island Railroad station at Jamaica Avenue, last week shows the new construction of the AirTrain system, and an accumulation of trash alongside the Sutphin Boulevard subway entrance.

Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

October 15th, 2003, 09:57 AM
Queens Family Court and City Agency Facility


November 8th, 2003, 06:38 AM
November 8, 2003

JetBlue Backs Off on Move to Jamaica From Forest Hills


Attempts to lure JetBlue Airways into moving its headquarters to a planned $200 million office tower in Jamaica, Queens, appear all but dead for now, with the company saying the move would be too costly and would take longer than expected to complete.

The three-year-old airline, based in Forest Hills, has been negotiating for months with the city and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation about possibly relocating to the 500,000-square-foot building. The tower is to be the first phase of JFK Corporate Square, a major project hailed by economic development officials as an engine of commercial growth for Jamaica.

But yesterday, Richard Smyth, vice president of redevelopment for JetBlue, splashed cold water on the proposal, saying, "At this stage, it looks like it's not going to happen."

"We were approached and we considered it," Mr. Smyth said in a telephone interview. "However, the numbers did not work out. The move was supposed to be financially neutral, but it looks like it won't be."

Mr. Smyth added that the expected completion date for construction of the office building was further away than initially expected, causing additional complications. "The timing of the development was not, at this time, meeting our needs," he said. "The date had slipped from 2005 to 2006, and even beyond."

Still, Mr. Smyth would not rule out a move to the Jamaica site at some point. He said JetBlue had no other plans to leave its current headquarters.

Economic development officials reacted with puzzlement to JetBlue's statements, and insisted that talks over a possible move were still alive. Michael Sherman, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corporation, said city officials expected to meet with JetBlue executives for further talks in the next two weeks.

"They did call us and said they had some concerns," he said. "But we're optimistic. We're still hopeful that we can make it work."

Mr. Sherman declined to comment on the negotiations with JetBlue or on what financial incentives, if any, the city might be prepared to offer. He called the airline "an incredibly important company for New York City."

A spokesman for the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Sam Samuels, issued a statement saying, "We are still hopeful that the discussions the airline is having with the city will be fruitful."

The problems with the JFK Corporate Square proposal are unrelated to another major project by JetBlue and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: the construction of a 26-gate terminal at Kennedy International Airport. That project, expected to cost $600 million, would greatly expand JetBlue's already dominant presence at the airport.

JFK Corporate Square, a 4.5 million-square-foot complex of office and retail space, would be built next to the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica station and the new AirTrain rail line to Kennedy Airport. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has tentatively agreed to lease space in the first office tower to be built, and officials had been hoping that JetBlue would be the other major tenant.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 8th, 2003, 09:58 AM
JFK Corporate Square, a 4.5 million-square-foot complex of office and retail space, would be built next to the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica station and the new AirTrain rail line to Kennedy Airport. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has tentatively agreed to lease space in the first office tower to be built, and officials had been hoping that JetBlue would be the other major tenant.

Oh well. The show must go on...

February 22nd, 2004, 04:35 PM

February 23rd, 2004, 02:05 AM
I like this development. Very nice plan. Would like some more height, but...

February 27th, 2004, 09:40 PM
February 29, 2004

Jamaica Seeks to Build on AirTrain


AirTrains leaving and approaching terminal linked to Long Island Rail Road Jamaica Station. A special zone around the AirTrain terminal would encourage the development of hotels, offices and residences.

THE AirTrain is running between Jamaica, Queens, and Kennedy International Airport, taking passengers from a railroad-subway connection to the passenger terminals in about 12 minutes. Various routes have been suggested for a rail link between Lower Manhattan and Jamaica that would enable travelers to go from meetings downtown to their flights without facing the often traffic-choked highways leading to the airport.

Given that the area is already a major hub for the Long Island Rail Road and has extensive subway and bus service as well, the community, near the geographic center of Queens, would seem to be a likely spot to practice an urban version of what planners call transit-related smart growth.

"With necessary and significant private, public or mixed investment in site acquisition and maintaining new and modernized infrastructure, downtown Jamaica could be successfully revived," according to a study issued last year by City University's Institute for Urban Systems, whose principal authors were Robert Paaswell, Harry Schwartz and Linda Stone Davidoff.

Because of its connection to the airport, the economic engine of Jamaica's resurgence was expected to be airlines and air travel related businesses, although real estate specialists caution that development should not be limited to transportation-related projects. But because the attack of Sept. 11 roiled the airline industry, that part of the plan is likely to be delayed.

Still, some real estate executives say the AirTrain may give a short-term boost to retail businesses. "With the coming of the J.F.K. AirTrain, we should see more retail activity and things like hotels and tablecloth restaurants," said Adelle Klein, a senior managing director at Sholom & Zuckerbrot, a commercial and industrial brokerage active in the area. "And the 14-screen theater that opened not long ago has added more evening business."

Richard Maltz, chairman of Greiner-Maltz, a brokerage active in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, added: "Jamaica is booming from a retail standpoint. There are stores all along Jamaica Avenue and 40 to 45 feet in on the side streets."

In the meantime, a major rezoning plan is moving forward that would establish a special zone around the AirTrain terminal that would encourage the development of hotels, office buildings and residences. While the allowable size of buildings in the special zone would be increased, the size of structures in adjoining neighborhoods would be restricted to preserve local character. The zoning proposal, which covers a 415-block area in and around Jamaica, is part of a citywide rezoning process.

Plans have been made by a local group, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, working with LCOR, a national developer, to build a 13-story building with approximately 400,000 square feet of office of space. The plan — which awaits a signed tenant before moving forward — is seen as the first step in what the planners envision as a 5-million-square-foot mixed-use airport village on the 10 blocks closest to the AirTrain terminal.

This would be analogous to the "transit villages" that have been springing up near commuter rail stations in New Jersey and in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.

The emergence of these transit villages reflects the "smart growth" ideas that have largely focused on the suburbs as a means of slowing endless sprawl by directing growth back into older municipalities with existing utilities, communications and mass transit. In New Jersey the advent of Midtown Direct train service has been credited with reviving fading downtown areas in northern part of the state by attracting people who want quick, carless access to New York and retailers catering to them.

Envisioning Jamaica a Regional Center

Tied to Mass Transit Eventually, the thinking in Jamaica goes, the airline industry will sort itself out, an anchor tenant will be found for Tower 1 of the JFK Corporate Square development — the official name for the village — and other projects will move forward.

Already, the first market rate housing in 40 years is under construction in the downtown Jamaica area. And parking decks have been built and remodeled to provide badly needed off-street parking.

"The Regional Plan Association designated Jamaica as a regional center tied to Manhattan by mass transit," said F. Carlisle Towery, a former R.P.A. official who has been president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local economic development group, since 1972.

The R.P.A. is a private planning group whose recommendations have often come to pass, if at a glacial pace. In New Jersey, its suggestion to connect two neighboring rail lines now known as the Montclair Connection was first advanced in the 1930's, but did not actually go into operation until 2002.

Transit-related developments are becoming increasingly feasible because people are forsaking a punishing daily automotive commute in favor of rail transportation, said Robert Yaro, president of Regional Plan. "Total rail transport in the region," he said, "is up one-third in the past decade, which is why you are seeing signs of life in places like Jamaica and New Brunswick," the city in central New Jersey.

He said the increased ridership was at least partly a result of the $35 billion that has been invested in rail transport in the region since 1970. He said most of the investment had been in the rails and rolling stock, but included the renovation of Grand Central Terminal. "In 1990 it was a slum," he said.

Transit-related developments have three major virtues, Mr. Yaro said. They recycle land that has been abandoned or underutilized. They lure people out of cars and onto the rails for their daily commutes. And they give local residents, often people with limited transportation options, a shot at jobs that are created.

Jamaica was once an independent municipality and is one of the oldest in the region, having been established in 1650. The name derives not from the island in the Caribbean but rather from the Carnarsie Indian word for beaver, "jamecos."

Even in ancient times the area was a transportation hub, with Indians from western areas traveling along a trail that is roughly the route of Jamaica Avenue today to trade with eastern tribes. By colonial times, the path had been widened to accommodate horse-drawn carts, and by 1834 the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad company completed a line to the trading post in downtown Jamaica.

Elevated passenger trains began operation in 1918 and, according to the CUNY study, "triggered enormous commercial and residential growth." It said, "By 1925 the section of Jamaica Avenue between 160th and 168th Street had the highest assessed valuation in the county."

But after World War II, single family homes were developed in vast numbers on Long Island, attracting families out of apartments, and shoppers found it easier to drive their cars to the growing suburban malls than contest the tight preautomobile streets of Jamaica to do their shopping.

As a result, the major department stores in Jamaica gradually moved away or went out of business and poorer families and newer immigrants replaced the departed suburbanites.

"Within one generation, Jamaica's downtown went from a thriving, bustling hub of banking, government, retail and commerce serving three counties to a neglected and distressed shopping district serving a much smaller trading area," Mr. Towery wrote.

Nevertheless, a lot of people pass through the area. Approximately 100,000 commuters use the Long Island Rail Road terminal in Jamaica each workday, according to the local development group, with 16,000 more using the Sutphin Boulevard subway station and another 37,000 using Jamaica Center terminal at Parsons Avenue. In addition, about 40 bus lines serve Jamaica, carrying customers from eastern and southern Queens and Nassau County.

Those numbers are likely to rise as an estimated 12.4 million passengers and airport workers a year arrive in Jamaica to get to their flights and jobs. Any direct connection to Lower Manhattan, which some people are calling the "super shuttle," would add still more.

The trick, development officials say, is to prevent Jamaica from becoming simply a transit hub, where commuters rush through on their way to jobs in Manhattan or to the airport.

Some planners and real estate executives say a hotel near the AirTrain terminal should be a priority. "Without a hotel, there is nowhere for people to meet," said Ms. Klein of Sholom & Zuckerbrot.

There have been proposals for a 10-story, 250-room hotel over the AirTrain terminal, which could provide lodging and meeting space for people arriving at the airport. But with the heightened security concerns after Sept. 11, the project is not likely to go forward soon.

Mr. Towery said air travelers are not the only beneficiaries of improved transportation. He said improvements in subway service in decades past were responsible for the decision to build a Social Security Regional Center in downtown Jamaica and for City University officials to build York College nearby. Both wanted to be in a location easily reached by mass transit.

And those subway trains run both ways, he added. "Businesses in Manhattan can access the labor living here," he said.

It cost the Port Authority about $1.9 billion to build the AirTrain and the terminal building, and Professor Paaswell said the money was well spent. "Transit, in 99.9 percent of the cases, is a good investment, with an economic payoff," he said.

Unfortunately, he added, improved transit "is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for growth." He said it might take further public investment to convince private developers that underused former industrial sites close to the Long Island Rail Road are bargain-priced and ready for development.

He said York College, which is a four-year college in the City University system, will probably be an important factor in training local residents for more skilled, higher-paying jobs at the airport and at places like the Food and Drug Administration building, which houses offices and laboratories and is located on the college's campus. "The area needs a wider range of jobs, including white collar jobs," Professor Paaswell said. "You want to have career ladder jobs, and York College is a part of that."

Developing an office complex in Jamaica will be a stretch, since the area has not attracted office users in the past, said Mr. Maltz, the broker. He noted that many of the larger developments in the area have been government related, like the Queens County civil and family courts and the F.D.A. and Social Security buildings.

Seeking airline and airport-related tenants is seen as a good idea, but, he added, "Unfortunately, the airline industry is not flourishing now and they have placed expansion plans on hold."

Development officials had hoped to sign up Jet Blue, a low-fare carrier that is growing rapidly, but Mr. Maltz said this did not appear likely. "Jet Blue subleased some Con Ed space on Jamaica Avenue that is much less expensive than a new building," he said.

Dealing With Autos Nonprofit Group

Offers Parking Because many people still prefer to travel by car, the Jamaica development group, though a not-for-profit operation, has gotten into the parking business, acquiring some formerly city-owned garages and lots and building a 410-space garage convenient to the 180 units of market-rate housing under construction.

Under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, "the city wanted to get out of the municipal parking business, so we took over two city garages and renovated them and took two city lots and improved them," Mr. Towery said. He said the group pays taxes to the city out of income from the garages and tries to keep rates low to attract shoppers to the area. "Some of the parking around the courts is very expensive, so it is mostly used by lawyers," he said.

The problem, he said, is that Jamaica developed around the elevated train and has streets that are crowded beyond capacity. His group has estimated that there is currently a deficit of 500 parking spaces in the downtown area and that proposed developments would require the construction of garages to accommodate 2,000 more cars at an estimated cost of $32 million.

But part of smart growth is reducing automobile use and traffic on streets. If Jamaica is to develop in a smart fashion, the report says, "a significant portion of residents will have to be weaned away from 50 years of automobile dependency."

With the possible exception of the parking garages, Mr. Towery said most of what his development group has done or is proposing could be labeled as smart growth. He said the airport village would recycle urban land that already has a transportation infrastructure in place.

New York State's passage of a brownfields remediation law last year will help with the land recycling by providing guidelines for cleanups of sites that currently have dirty uses, such a junkyards. A older law in New Jersey has permitted the development of shopping centers and golf courses on what were once municipal dumps.

Because of the contamination, Mr. Towery said, well located land parcels can be acquired cheaply for redevelopment. "We salivate at grunge," he said. "Other people see blight, but we see sites."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 1st, 2004, 10:55 PM
June 2, 2004

Real Estate Holdings, Tightly Held


Rita Stark inherited her father's Queens properties, including this apartment building.

The AirTrain terminal, with its sleek driverless trains to Kennedy International Airport, was plunked down six months ago in the middle of a ragged pocket of Jamaica, Queens, and many community leaders predicted it would set off a tide of revitalization.

But these leaders say they are running up against a formidable and familiar barrier, a landlord named Rita Stark.

Ms. Stark, who inherited one of the larger collections of real estate in Queens, owns a defunct meat-processing plant opposite the AirTrain terminal that has sat largely derelict for 15 years. She owns a 19th-century Beaux-Arts limestone Jamaica Savings Bank building a few blocks from the AirTrain that has been empty for 15 years as she has fended off efforts to have it declared a landmark. She owns the three-story plant that published The Long Island Press before that newspaper went out of business in 1977, and most of that building has been idle since.

Few people claim to understand why Ms. Stark would hold such pivotal properties off the market even as the AirTrain is expected to provide a tonic to the neighborhood's bustling spine, Jamaica Avenue.

Whatever the reasons, the puzzle has only added to the mystique of a landlord who is labeled by a community newspaper as the "notorious real estate heiress" and whose name, far more than those of other holdout landlords, is often murmured by frustrated Queens politicians.

"Rita has been an obstacle for years," said Claire Shulman, the former borough president, who once clashed with Ms. Stark over a fraying shopping center in Far Rockaway. (It is still woebegone.)

Lawrence Gresser, deputy borough president from 1974 to 1979, said "there's no rational reason she does what she does."

He added, "My grandfather once said to me, 'You'll drive yourself crazy if you try to make sense out of nonsense.' "

Ms. Stark, in a long interview in her office with her lawyer at her side, vigorously denied she was obstructing renewal. She said that until now it was hard to sell or rent anything at reasonable prices. But with property values rising, she said, she is on the verge of a deal with a national retailer for the press building. She plans to auction off the four-story bank building next Tuesday with bidding starting at $1.4 million, she said, and is negotiating with the nonprofit Greater Jamaica Development Corporation over a "joint venture" to build something new where the meat plant stands.

She indicated that her philosophy was no different from that of landlords in Times Square who held onto seedy properties until the neighborhood revived. "I'm not opposed - I'm hoping and praying for development in Jamaica," she said. "You have faith in an area and you know it's coming back, you hold on and see if it comes to fruition."

Despite her plans to take action with the three properties, her critics do not all think she is relenting. They point out that she has a history of changing her mind. Two years ago, she put the bank on the auction block and at the last minute canceled the sale.

F. Carlisle Towery, president of development corporation, acknowledged that he has been speaking to Ms. Stark about parting with the meat-processing plant. But he said that after two years of negotiations "she won't sell it." "She's emotionally attached," he said.Ms. Stark, who has lived in Queens for most of her 57 years, has burnished her maverick reputation in other ways, most famously as the chief witness against Sheldon Leffler, the longtime councilman who ran for borough president. Confronted by prosecutors with improper campaign donations to Mr. Leffler, she wore a microphone and taped him. Her testimony led to his conviction last November for campaign finance violations. She walked away without penalty.

"Rita plays ditzy but she's not really as ditzy as she seems," said Mr. Leffler, who is appealing the verdict.

As the executor of the estate of her father, Fred Stark , who died in 1988, she was sued by her brother, Harold, though the two have reconciled.

Ms. Stark or the estate controls at least 26 properties in Queens - some vacant lots, some thick with apartments or stores - but none have aroused more controversy than the three in downtown Jamaica.

Once a shopping hub boasting three department stores - Macy's, Gertz and Montgomery Ward - downtown Jamaica went into a slump in the 1960's after residents moved to Long Island or sought out suburban malls with ample parking.

According to Mr. Towery, Jamaica Avenue and connecting streets began bustling again in the late 1980's, and that momentum has picked up with recent additions of a 13-screen theater building that houses Gap and Old Navy outlets and a Bally fitness center. Jamaica has also been the exceptional beneficiary of government largesse, chosen as the site of York College, the Social Security Administration and Food and Drug Administration federal buildings, Queens civil and family courts and the AirTrain, operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Towery and his planning group have sketched designs for a J.F.K. Corporate Park, which would feature a hotel atop the AirTrain terminal and five other buildings. Thousands of travelers are already using the AirTrain every day, paying $5 for an eight-minute dash to and from the airport, and connecting through the terminal to a 20-minute ride to Midtown Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road or the E, J and Z subway lines.

Mr. Towery, an Alabama native who has worked for the corporation for more than 30 years, has no illusion that these travelers would take an interlude to shop on Sutphin Boulevard below or nearby Jamaica Avenue. But Mr. Towery and supporters of the Jamaica development believe that some travelers and flight crews would stay at a hotel and try the shops and that aviation-related businesses like JetBlue might prefer offices there. A consultant recently argued that a renewed Jamaica should also entice young urban pioneers like those who invigorated Brooklyn's brownstone neighborhoods.

One of the properties that would have to be bulldozed to make the project work is Ms. Stark's meat factory, once the headquarters of Merkel Inc. The gunmetal building is tumbledown, its clock stopped at 6:37. On Mr. Towery's visionary map, it is the site for a commercial building and garage.

If Ms. Stark does have a sentimental attachment to her properties, it may have something to do with her family's rags-to-riches story. Ms. Stark's father immigrated at 13 from Austria, worked as a painter and contractor, sold hardware and appliances, then specialized in building apartments in St. Albans and Hollis for elderly and single people of modest means, often furnishing them himself. Ms. Stark obtained a law degree from Hofstra University and went into her father's business.

Real estate professionals in the area said she was overwhelmed when Fred Stark's empire fell in her lap and had trouble figuring out how to pay for enhancing rundown properties.

Ms. Stark said that until the early 1990's she had been able to rent portions of the meat plant to butchers, but it did not draw reasonable offers until the AirTrain became a reality.

"Forces greater than me changed the entire area," she said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 2nd, 2004, 12:22 AM
I was in the area on sunday afternoon and it sures need development. The airtram station was great but the subway station was nasty looking or maybe it wasnt. :? I dont remeber but going from one station to the other one sures gives you an impression.

June 4th, 2004, 05:49 PM
Things will gradually improve there...

July 10th, 2004, 12:50 PM
U.S. Food & Drug Administration Headquarters


Area: 277,000 sf
Completion: 2000

Gruzen Samton/HLW International Associated Architects, Engineers and Planners are the architects of the new Food and Drug Administration laboratory and office facility—a 80 million dollar 277,000 square foot project developed by Hines G.S. Properties, Inc., located adjacent to the York College campus in Jamaica, Queens. The building houses three divisions of the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs’ Northeast Regional Operations: Northeast Region Field Office; Northeast Regional Laboratory; and New York District Office. The design responds to FDA planning objectives, which include providing a modern, state-of-the-art facility which is adaptable to changing technologies and affords a pleasant working environment for employees.



November 22nd, 2005, 01:40 PM
Does anyone have any information on the development on Archer Ave. between Merrick Blvd. and 168th street?

November 29th, 2006, 12:09 PM
Jamaica lights up
12M hub planned for dark stretch under LIRR

Artists' renderings of
proposed development
on the east side of
Sutphin Blvd.,
between Archer and
94th Aves.

November 29, 2006

A shabby stretch of downtown Jamaica, sitting in the shadows of the LIRR station, will be transformed into a bright commercial hub, officials said yesterday.

Inspired by the teeming Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has secured $12 million to create some 5,600 square feet of commercial space on the east side of Sutphin Blvd., between Archer and 94th Aves.

That's a small fraction of the space dedicated to shops and restaurants at Grand Central, but it could be a significant step forward for the downtown Jamaica area, said Andrew Manshel, the corporation's senior vice president of real estate development.

"We're hoping that the renovation of that space will be a catalyst for the continuing redevelopment of Jamaica," Manshel said.

"We're hoping to provide a heightened level of service to Long Island Rail Road passengers and provide them with an incentive to do some shopping downtown."

The plan includes infusing the viaduct with light by installing electronic panels - which will display colorful patterns - above the enclosed sidewalk, Manshel said.

The area currently is a "foreboding" place, Roco Krsulic, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's real estate and advertising division, said at an MTA committee meeting this week.

"If you've been under that underpass you really will appreciate what this project will do," Krsulic said.

The MTA board today is expected to approve a 20-year lease for the property with the development corporation.

The support and efforts of Linda Kleinbaum, an MTA deputy executive director, were critical in getting the pact done, Manshel said.

"They have been fabulous," Manshel said.

Funding for the project has been provided by the federal and state governments, the Port Authority and the MTA, Manshel said.

The western side of Sutphin Blvd. between Archer and 94th Aves., where the Port Authority built a terminal for the AirTrain to Kennedy Airport, was previously renovated.

The lease calls for the development corporation to pay the MTA $55,920 the first year of the two-decade lease. Subsequent annual payments will increase by 3%.

All contents © 2006 Daily News, L.P.

November 29th, 2006, 04:08 PM
There is a huge powerpoint about rezoning Jamaica on the Department of City Planning website, but it seems to have gone nowhere. The retail is nice, but given the impressive success of the AirTrain, and the desparate need for jobs and hope in the community in Jamaica, they ought to do more. I especially would like to see a major airport hotel open - just flight crews seem like they'd fill it - an airport hotel next to the AirTrain would obviously be better for travellers who like to use the train too - I'd imagine you'd get some Europeans looking to avoid Manhattan rates, as an example.

November 29th, 2006, 09:11 PM
Again, progressive thinking no longer exists in New York.

Things will only change for the better if they've been down long enough to hurt.

That's the only the time people will accept change in this city.

August 23rd, 2007, 06:16 PM
Council Committee Backs Rezoning Plan to Turn Jamaica Into an ‘Airport Village’


Published: August 23, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/23/nyregion/23jamaica.html)

A plan to transform downtown Jamaica, Queens, into a vibrant “airport village” while preserving the quiet, low-scale character of neighboring side streets cleared an important City Council committee yesterday, all but ensuring final approval next month for the single largest rezoning of the Bloomberg administration.

Covering a 368-block area that sweeps northeast from the AirTrain transit hub, the rezoning would expand the neighborhood’s commercial core by allowing hotels and office towers to rise on underused industrial land surrounding the train station, officials said. At the same time, it would encourage new, denser housing and retail development in some areas and limit residences to one- and two-family homes in others.

“We’ve all been aware for so long of the potential of Jamaica,” Daniel L. Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, said of the plan, intended to create a regional business center minutes from Kennedy International Airport. “You go to cities around the country and around the world and they’ve got major commercial centers near their airports. We don’t have anything like that.”

The rezoning would also bring six- to seven-story apartment buildings with street-level retail to a sleepy stretch of Hillside Avenue from 146th Street to 178th Street. Officials had originally sought to allow 12-story apartment buildings there but, facing stiff opposition from community advocates, agreed in negotiations with the City Council to the lower height.

At the same time, the plan caps development in areas near Hollis and St. Albans, where leafy, low-roofed sections were being overrun by out-of-scale developments, said Leroy G. Comrie, a city councilman who represents the area. “People were tearing down one- and two-family homes and building eight-unit attached condos and overtaxing the infrastructure,” he said. “We needed to have some stability.”

The new zoning would largely restrict construction to one- and two-family homes in two main sections, one roughly bounded by Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, 172nd and 189th Streets and the other south of Liberty Avenue between Merrick Boulevard and 180th Street.

The plan, officials said, is in keeping with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s approach to economic development of enhancing secondary business districts and creating mixed-use 24-hour communities in all five boroughs.

City officials and community development advocates have high hopes for the rezoning package, which was approved with modifications by the City Council’s Land Use Committee. The City Planning Commission must now accept those changes before resubmitting the package to the Council for final approval, expected on Sept. 10.

“It’s going to make great use of the train-to-the-plane,” said Councilwoman Melinda R. Katz, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee. “Basically, this is really an example of something that is good for the borough of Queens and good for the city of New York,” she said, but added that it was important to accommodate some of the concerns in the neighborhood that the zoning would allow for too-large buildings on Hillside Avenue.

Indeed, said Amanda M. Burden, the city planning commissioner, working to address concerns that made the rezoning effort complex and time-consuming. “This has been a marathon four-year effort,” she said. “Jamaica already is a retail destination,” she said, “but around the AirTrain you just couldn’t build.”

But with the land, now zoned for manufacturing, soon to accommodate buildings as high as 29 stories, officials envision three million square feet of commercial space bringing 9,600 jobs to the hub, as well as 5,200 new residences, 770 of them subsidized.

To accommodate that growth, officials said, they are working to bring in schools, sewers, parking spaces and other infrastructure improvements, including lighting and trees along Hillside Avenue.

Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, said that the rezoning would help attract private investment to build on other developments that are helping create a regional center. Queens County civil courts have clustered nearby, he said, while a Food and Drug Administration laboratory and a Social Security Administration office are federal anchors.

Mr. Towery, who has been promoting economic development there for more than 30 years, said that plans included converting an underpass area to a retail arcade and bringing businesses and amenities that would benefit by being close to the airport.

Since the last citywide rezoning in 1961, he said, zoning changes have been “project by project.” Now, “there are developers proceeding and waiting to proceed.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

August 23rd, 2007, 06:29 PM
The rezoning would also bring six- to seven-story apartment buildings with street-level retail to a sleepy stretch of Hillside Avenue from 146th Street to 178th Street. Officials had originally sought to allow 12-story apartment buildings there but, facing stiff opposition from community advocates, agreed in negotiations with the City Council to the lower height.Ugh, NIMBYs. :mad:

September 11th, 2007, 02:06 AM
Rezoning Plan for Jamaica Wins Approval of Council

Published: September 11, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/nyregion/11jamaica.html)

A plan to convert Jamaica, Queens, into a vibrant commercial center while also attempting to preserve the area’s low-rise residential character was overwhelmingly approved yesterday by the City Council.

Less than three weeks after winning committee approval, the Council, as expected, approved the plan by a 45-to-3 vote. The plan, which covers 368 blocks, is the single largest rezoning of the Bloomberg administration.

It is expected to pave the way for 3 million square feet of commercial space, 9,500 jobs and 5,200 residential units, including 780 subsidized units, according to Councilwoman Melinda R. Katz, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee.

Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn praised the project for maximizing the area’s commercial potential while protecting neighborhoods characterized by one- and two-family homes. For example, the low-rise character of the neighborhoods near Hollis and St. Albans will be preserved, she said, to keep the “flavor and beauty of the area.”

“This zoning will make sure that important low-rise one- and two-family homes in Queens, those neighborhoods get to stay low-rise and one- and two-family residential communities,” Ms. Quinn said. “It also takes steps to support the business community and the business area in the Jamaica part of Queens, taking steps and in part through a small up-zoning, to make that business district a really thriving business district.”

Jamaica, home to the AirTrain transit hub, is minutes from Kennedy International Airport, a feature the city expects will increase its appeal as a regional business center and foster commercial enterprises that will attract and serve longtime residents. “We tried to promote development around the transit hubs,” Ms. Katz said.

Councilman Leroy G. Comrie Jr., who represents portions of the area, welcomed the rezoning as a potential boon to residents of Queens, who. he said, citing recent United States Census data, include more than 250,000 residents who are living below the poverty line.

The Bloomberg administration and Council worked for four years to resolve community concerns, but critics, particularly residents of some portions of Hillside Avenue, objected to zoning that would, as initially proposed, allow the construction of buildings as tall as 12 stories. Under the approved plan, buildings are restricted to eight stories, but that compromise did not satisfy everyone.

Councilman David I. Weprin, who along with Councilmen Tony Avella and James F. Gennaro voted against the plan, called the increase in development for parts of Hillside Avenue overaggressive and said the infrastructure was incapable of supporting it.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

September 25th, 2007, 07:10 PM
Hillside is actually somewhat far from the main transit hub, so I think building too tall might encourage unreasonable traffic congestion in Queens. The main thing was developing the commercial core. Let's hope people knock down ugly factories and build a hotel office district in Jamaica.

I think the city should try to attract the defense industry to this office area. Relative to New York's importance on the war on terror, as well as Jamaica's proximity to New York's airports, I would think we should try to get the Boeing's, Northrup Grummans, and Lockheed Martin's to view Jamaica as an accessible, convenient hub to put employees and still pay office rents that won't get Congress irritated. New York gets the shaft from defense spending relative to its strategic importance in this new world we live in.

October 25th, 2007, 02:58 PM
This looks like a very downmarket development and disappointing:

Why wouldn't you want to build an airport hotel and conference center - that kind of stuff makes more sense in Queens than a 10 store electronics store. It's like they put all of Times Square in 1 building.

October 25th, 2007, 06:55 PM
I'm sure at some point on some other site, they'll get the hotel and conference center that you are talking about.

On paper and without seeing what this electronics mart building will actually look like, I don't think it's that bad of an idea to have a diversity of commercial businesses.

I just hope they get the building right, that is, groundlevel with storefronts and build up to the lot line.

October 25th, 2007, 08:21 PM
Here's more lengthy coverage from the Times. I am concerned and puzzled by the large number of parking spaces planned for this mart.

Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of building next to a transit hub?

It better not be an above ground garage.

A Planned ‘Airport Village’ Near J.F.K. Finds a Cornerstone

A wholesale merchandise mart is planned to replace the former Merkel meatpacking plant in the Jamaica
area of Queens, near the AirTrain station. The mart will accommodate 500 businesses, retail space and parking.

Published: October 24, 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/business/24queens.html)

When the transit hub in the Jamaica section of Queens was expanded in 2003 to enable passengers arriving by subway or train to get to Kennedy International Airport in eight minutes by light rail, community leaders hoped the glassy new AirTrain station would encourage additional development.

In a sign that this dream was not far-fetched, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation said last week that the South Korean developer of Techno-Mart, a shopping complex in Seoul that houses more than 2,000 electronics retailers, plans to build a 13-story $260 million wholesale merchandise mart on Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue, cater-corner from the station.

The 979,000-square-foot building will have 10 floors of showroom space to accommodate 500 businesses, 172,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 800 cars, said Paul Travis, a New York developer who is teaming with the Korean company, Prime Construction. It will be Prime’s first foray into the United States.

The project is the first to be announced since the area was rezoned last month to encourage development of a lively “airport village.”

The wholesale mart will replace the former Merkel meatpacking plant. Built in 1919, the plant once employed more than 500 people but was permanently shut in 1965 after the authorities seized 20 tons of tainted beef and horse meat.

Though many, if not most, of the businesses in the new mart will be from Korea, the project is expected to generate hundreds of jobs, said F. Carlisle Towery, the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that has worked for four decades to stimulate investment in the area. “It will be catalytic,” he said.

This is not the first time, however, that a wholesale Korean market has been planned for Queens. In 2004, a group of 53 Korean wholesalers from Midtown Manhattan was chosen from among 12 applicants as the developers for a 26-acre city-owned site in College Point that was once Flushing Airport.

The wholesalers planned to provide a new home for about 180 businesses between 26th and 36th Streets, near Broadway. With the neighborhood becoming increasingly residential, these business owners, who import toys, bags, costume jewelry, souvenirs and other goods from Asian countries and sell them to retailers, had found themselves squeezed by escalating rents.

But the proposal for an International Merchandise Mart drew heated opposition from many older residents of College Point, and eight months later, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg shelved the project. The wholesale group’s leader, Jay Chung, the owner of Jay Joshua, a company on 27th Street between Broadway and the Avenue of the Americas, which carries a wide assortment of souvenir items, said the members had spent more than $1 million on the College Point plans.

After the project collapsed, the city tried to help the Korean wholesalers find another site. For months, Mr. Chung negotiated with Mr. Travis and his partner, James Levin, who had acquired a long-term lease to the Merkel site.
But eventually, members of Mr. Chung’s group began drifting away and he gave up on the Jamaica site. “We couldn’t agree on a number of issues,” Mr. Chung said.

By then, executives of the Acreciti Development Group, the company that built and manages Seoul Plaza Shopping Mall in the Flushing section of Queens, had brought Mr. Travis and Mr. Levin together with Prime Construction. Prime is building a second Techno-Mart in southwest Seoul and is creating a Chinatown in Goyang City, a suburb.

Mr. Travis said that Prime’s track record would make it easier for the project to secure financing. “We needed a major player who could stand behind the mart,” he said.

Prime Construction will be responsible for operating the mart but will sell — rather than rent — space to individual wholesalers, who will work side by side without being separated by partitions, he said. Prime expects that many of the businesses in the Seoul Techno-Mart — where the same merchant has both retail and wholesale customers — will want to set up operations in New York, Mr. Travis said. He said that Prime also intended to offer space to Manhattan wholesalers, and that those that sell electronic goods would fit in especially well. “I think we made it very clear to them that we would certainly welcome them as tenants,” he said.

But Mr. Chung said he did not know whether his members would agree to participate in the new project in a subordinate role, especially if they were relegated to the higher floors. He also expressed bitterness that Mr. Travis had sought another partner while the talks with his group were still under way. But he said the wholesalers would base their decision on business considerations, not emotion. Mr. Travis declined to respond to Mr. Chung’s complaints.

For Mr. Travis and Mr. Levin, the Merkel site seemed to offer the same potential they saw in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx when they developed River Plaza, a shopping center at 225th Street and Broadway that opened in 2004. Then Mr. Towery introduced them to the Korean wholesalers. “What could be more ideal — the connection to the airport and this site?” Mr. Travis said.

He said it took them two years to get the plant’s owner, Rita Stark, to agree to a long-term lease for the site. Ms. Stark inherited a local real estate empire from her father, who died in 1988, but has frustrated advocates of urban renewal for years by keeping many of her properties off the market.

The lease was signed more than a year ago, Mr. Travis said. But Prime would not commit to the deal until the rezoning was approved.

The other participants in the project are the HRH Construction Company of New York and Acreciti Development.

Even before the lease was signed, demolition of the building began, with the city providing a $4 million loan. The partners expect to begin construction a year from now and complete the project in 2010.

City officials said they were happy that the project was going forward. “This reinforces the bigger goal that the administration has — to diversify the city’s economy not just by industry but by borough,” said Robert C. Lieber, the president of the Economic Development Corporation.

Jonathan Bowles, the director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City research organization, and a critic of the Bloomberg administration for abandoning the plan for the College Point mart, said he hoped the new project would make room for the Midtown Manhattan wholesalers. These businesses, which sell goods to retailers up and down the East Coast, are suffering the same displacement as other niche industries, he said.

“These industries don’t get a lot of attention,” Mr. Bowles said, “but they are not unimportant to the city’s economy.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

October 25th, 2007, 09:26 PM
I hope its below ground parking too. Parking seems to be one of the prices of the rezoning though - I think they demanded that for the rezoning to pass. People in Queens love parking - I think they want to compete for suburban Long Islanders who they fear won't take the train. They should just teach those people to use the train like they do every day to work and then you wouldn't need parking in a hopelessly congested area.

October 27th, 2007, 12:48 AM
While the overall plan has the name of Jamaica, I'm sure that a small part of other areas may be included in it as well. I don't see a problem with that.

No need for the name to be long like this just for the sake of clarity: the Jamaica but part of western Hollis and St. Albans rezoning plan. :D

Besides, I believe those parts of Hollis and SA are being downzoned anyway.

October 28th, 2007, 05:47 PM
Thanks, it was a retort to someone here who had said I was too pessimistic.;)

Anyway, the downzoning is from the original zoning.

The policy of this administration is very progressive in that they want higher density in underutilized areas with access to mass transit such as downtown Jamaica whereas areas like Hollis and SA obviously will get lowered density.

The density of those two former areas were not high to begin with but anticipating community opposition to an upzoning-only plan, they felt they need to give in other areas. In the end, this was a compromise.

October 31st, 2007, 08:29 PM
Judging from your question, I suspect you aren't very familiar with zoning. That's all right because most people aren't.

Now, it doesn't matter what kind of house you have but rather in which zoning district your house sits in and how large of a plot your property encompasses.

For example, there are residential, commercial, manufacturing zoning districts. Within each of these districts, there are numbers attached to them, for instance, R (for residential) has R1, R2, R3, R4, etc. Likewise, for commerical, it would be C1, C2, C3 and so on.

Each of them has different restrictions on density (FAR), size, and height limits.

Without knowing what district your house is in, I couldn't tell you what size your property can accommodate.

November 2nd, 2007, 09:01 PM
I live in Jamaica Queens and so far everywhere I have been hearing about the rezoning plan and the projects that are supposed to be under construction but so far I have not seen any change around the area except for 5-6 feet of new pavement being added on one block in Sutphin Boulevard. However as I read the final year overview of the GJDC on their website, I found out that 2007 had been mainly used to finance and pay some starter fees in order to start some of these projects such as the new "TechnoMart" and the new stores in the LIRR underpass. I hope by 2008, we can see some difference because a lot of us in the area are being frustrated on why these things are going so slowly.

November 2nd, 2007, 09:24 PM
Relax, you can't expect instantaneous results. Development takes years and decades, not the few weeks since the rezoning was passed.

December 3rd, 2007, 05:21 PM
Building that many parking spaces doesn't seem like they're defying the purpose of a transit hub. The area around the construction site of the Techno Mart is very jam packed meaning that residents who drive cars are parking their vehicles around places that they shouldn't. In fact, I personally believe that they are creating the 800 parking spaces more for local residents than for shoppers coming from far distances. Also if you look at the original rezoing plan of Downtown Jamaica and on the GJDC website, you will see that the one of the key points of new development in Jamaica is to "relieve the traffic situation".

December 4th, 2007, 06:43 AM
When you say "jam packed" are you referring to cars parked on the streets or are you talking about cars moving on the roads?

Do Grand Central, Penn Station and other large city transit hubs/stations have or need parking spaces?

Meanwhile, what is the primary feature of almost all SUBURBAN transit stations?

December 4th, 2007, 07:16 AM
Actually, there's a lot of parking in midtown underneath office buildings. It's expensive, but its there. Jamaica is not really going to be midtown, and it probably should be multi-modal - relying on both public transit and cars.

Cars are not evil - we need them to run society and any affluent location has parking. I'd prefer the Jamaica parking be underground underneath buildings if possible though - although I see an advantage to removing cars from the Jamaica core, where streets are congested.

December 4th, 2007, 07:44 AM
Cars may not be evil but they are very, very bad for our cities. Their burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming not to mention deepening our reliance on oil rich countries and financing their questionable governments.

Their exhaust is toxic and is detrimental to people's health. They cause traffic and take up space. Not the least, is the soot from their exhaust get into your nose/lungs and turn city buildings black over time. If any person had that long of a list of bad traits, you'd say he/she was evil, too.

The only really positive trait is that they can get you from one place to another faster but in a city environment and heavy traffic, that is positive is completely negated. So what are they good for?

The point is never to get rid of all cars but to reduce their use as much as possible. When you are making parking easy to find and readily available, it is essentially advertising to drivers, "here, drive into Manhattan because there's plenty of parking available."

To combat the increase driving and traffic, we then try to implement plans to deter people from driving into Manhattan. Doesn't this all sound counterproductive and kind of dumb? And we're creating all these parking spaces for what and what good are they for, again?

December 4th, 2007, 08:05 AM
I think the solution to your proposal is to improve public transit to the point where people opt to take it. Limiting choice won't improve public transit, it will just make the government agencies that deal with transit complacent about doing anything. Once public transit improves, the parking lot will be replaced by a condo or office building.

December 4th, 2007, 08:21 AM
Improving transit? That sounds easier said than done. This city has built how many new subway lines in the past 50 years?

With that kind of track record, do you think the prospects of improving transit in this city is really that great? You can't even build a short little subway line extension to your own airport for Christ's sake.

On top of that, the city can't even build an additional subway station shell (forget a fully-functioning station, we can't even get a shell) on the 7 extension that will only have one lousy station at its terminus. Essentially making it worthless for anywhere along the long except for the area near that one station. All this you said yourself, will probably take more than a decade. That is if something doesn't happen to derail that even further.

So in the meantime, just build more parking lots, garages, underground parking garages, right? That should solve all the traffic and congestion problem. If that doesn't work, just slap on more expensive tolls and fees to counter that. Brilliant.

And all this so your average Joe commuter or Mary the shopper, can find a parking space easier? Yeah, give 'em choice. That's the way to do it.

December 4th, 2007, 08:36 AM
Let me tell you what all this will only do. First, you have added parking in Jamaica. Certainly you are building those parking spaces for cars right?

Okay, so when the cars do come and the roadways and streets are clogged with traffic, what do you think the ignorant locals and politicians will whine about then?

They will then point to the fact that the upzoning has created nothing but traffic and headaches. No doubt, there will be calls and petitions to repeal the upzoning and/or act as warning to other communities that may be considered for upzoning that it was a mistake.

All this because while you have a smart plan which is upzoning but a counterproductive facet added in, which is parking and cars. It totally defeats the good that upzoning was intended for.

Your average Joe Schmoe won't realize it and would only think the upzoning is to be blamed when in fact, it was the inclusion of parking that really is at fault. It's like eating healthy but also doing drugs at the same time. It kind of defeats the purpose.

December 7th, 2007, 08:47 PM
Let's try to stay on topic people. When I said "jam packed" I meant that both the parking spaces and the cars moving on the streets are indeed congested. Even during off-peak times, non-rush hours, you can still face delays when traveling from point A to point B. The streets today that could definitely use some street widening or bus lanes are Sutphin Blvd, Merrick Blvd, and Jamaica Avenue. These places are the worst to be around if you're driving. And like I said before, the TechnoMart is going to have 800 parking spaces which I believe will benefit the local residents the greatest. Freeing up parkings spaces will allow an extra lane for cars to pass through. Maybe the city could convert these as-of-today parking lanes into bus lanes so buses won't interrupt in major throughfare transit. Also, Jamaica Queens isn't what I would really call the "suburbs". The core development is happening in the downtown region. If you were to concentrate on the suburbs then try "South Jamaica" or "Jamaica Hills".

December 7th, 2007, 08:59 PM
Let me tell you what all this will only do. First, you have added parking in Jamaica. Certainly you are building those parking spaces for cars right?

Okay, so when the cars do come and the roadways and streets are clogged with traffic, what do you think the ignorant locals and politicians will whine about then?

They will then point to the fact that the upzoning has created nothing but traffic and headaches. No doubt, there will be calls and petitions to repeal the upzoning and/or act as warning to other communities that may be considered for upzoning that it was a mistake.

All this because while you have a smart plan which is upzoning but a counterproductive facet added in, which is parking and cars. It totally defeats the good that upzoning was intended for.

Your average Joe Schmoe won't realize it and would only think the upzoning is to be blamed when in fact, it was the inclusion of parking that really is at fault. It's like eating healthy but also doing drugs at the same time. It kind of defeats the purpose.

Of course upzoning would lead to congestion. Everybody knows that, that is why they are building the parking spaces in the first place. Second, you can never decrease congestion entirely. You're talking about adding extra subway lines and improving public transportation, sooner or later that idea would fail as well. Why? New York is rapidly growing and the population is skyrocketing. People would never stop coming here. Once the subways are crowded then they'll just be going back to the cars. Of course the average joe would blame upzoning for the traffic problem because of the course the average joe isn't as educated and well informed. However politicians have to go through this process every single day. People whine about issues and send them to their local councilman or whatever about stupid issues that we face everyday. It's up to them to filter out which are important and which aren't. And if they so repeal the upzoning then that is fine with me. Besides Jamaica is already developing, the rezoning only added a little bit of fuel to the fire. Even if it wasn't passed then the hotel and other stuff would still be going on because the GJDC had paid for all real estate fees as well as groundbreaking for the "Shops at station plaza" project was initiated way before the rezoning plans was even brought to the city council.

December 8th, 2007, 12:04 AM
It's far fetched to think the upzoning will be repealed. What will happen is people will be pleased as Jamaica grows and thrives and will clamor for their neighborhood downtown core to get similar zoning changes to attract investment. A local NIMBY crowd will whine about it and get resoundingly crushed.

December 8th, 2007, 07:49 AM
^ It isn't that far-fetched. The repeal of upzoning is called a DOWNZONING. In case you aren't aware, there have been more downzonings throughout the five boroughs than upzonings both in raw numbers as well as in total numbers of acres/blocks during this administration.

So it can and does happen.

Now onto our zayiaf62089 friend. Your post #63 can be summed up as saying we need to make more accommodations for cars because there is already growing roadway congestion.

LOL. That is of the same 1970's mindset as those people in Southern California, who believed that by building more highways and widening them, that that would relieve congestion.

We now know, in hindsight, that was all wrong. Building more infrastructure solved nothing other than made the traffic even worse. Even California is now looking to mass transit. There is no more wide-scale highway building or roadwidening.

Even LA, the king of sprawl, is now looking to smarter growth. That is, more denser, development in the downtown core as well as other public transit nodes.

Why would you do the same thing as someone who had tried it and failed?

Now, onto your second post. It basically says, correct me if I'm wrong, is that congestion and upzoning goes hand in hand and that's how it is. Nothing can be done about it.

Wrong. First of all, the reason why the City decides to upzone Downtown Jamaica and not, say, Woodhaven or Canarsie for example, is because there is lots of mass transit options there.

If you build for cars, that is, build parking lots, expand roadways, etc., then upzoning Downtown Jamaica doesn't make any sense. If you are going to bring in more cars, why not upzone East New York, Canarsie, Laurelton, etc. where there is access to highways? Heck, upzone all locales where there is a highway running nearby.

I doubt zayiaf will understand, but I have a feeling investordude will get it.

December 8th, 2007, 08:10 AM
By the way, I wouldn't call NY's population as exploding. The growth since 2000 is pretty modest, especially in comparison to many other fast growing cities in the South and West.

In fact, I believe come 2010 (or 2011 when the census tally comes out), we will be in for a bit of a surprise. The growth that everyone expects might not come about at all.

The fact is that the city has become unaffordable (as if you don't know that already) to many immigrants and that the traditional growth the city gets from immigration has been stifled. That plus tougher government restrictions also have a big effect.

In addition, many of the new housing units, especially in Manhattan are investments and may not be occupied. Throw in the fact that the new units generally take up more space than the traditional NY apartments and you can understand why there might be less people in that borough.

For instance, they raze three or four walkups that hold maybe 50 small units. Because of tight zoning in many Manhattan neighborhoods, there isn't that much additional square footage added to the new building and so it'll hold instead 40 "luxury" units.

Don't be surprised that the actual growth might be negligable.

December 9th, 2007, 04:41 AM
In fact, I believe come 2010 (or 2011 when the census tally comes out), we will be in for a bit of a surprise. The growth that everyone expects might not come about at all.

Don't be surprised that the actual growth might be negligable.

I think you couldn't be more wrong.

NYC has added 250,000 residents in the first five years of the century, and that includes the year after 9-11 when there was no population growth. This means that, very conservatively, the city will add 500,000 residents in the decade. That's more than any other city in the nation.

Equally important, we are alone among the major older American cities in that we are showing consistent growth. Chicago, Philly, Boston and others are declining or stagnant. Even LA is no longer growing. After strong growth during the first few years of the century, it has been stagnant the last two years.

I also don't know what you are referring to re. immigrants and new development. Immigration, after slumping in the early part of the decade, is again up, and the city's birth rate is rising.

In terms of raw numbers, Mexicans are now the #1 ethnicity of newborns in city hospitals, and in terms of percent increase, South Asians and Hasidic Jews, who have the highest fertility rates in the city, are the fastest growing groups in the city.

As for new development, while it is true that much of the development in Manhattan is for wealthy people and global investors, the vast majority of new housing is not being constructed in Manhattan. Most is being constructed in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and it is primarily for growing families, whether immigrants, yuppies or religious enclaves.

I think you are confusing the city's relative growth by comparing it to the 2000 Census, when the city's population jumped from 7.35 million to 8 million. The city did NOT actually grow by 650,000 residents during the 90's. It grew by a lot, but nowhere close to that figure. The reason NYC had such a big population jump was because the Census decided to redo their methodology, which had previously undercount big cities such as NYC.

The fact is that NYC is growing faster than at any time since WWII, which is amazing considering all the NIMBYism and anti-growth rhetoric, and the fact that the city, in contrast to past decades, is built-out.

December 9th, 2007, 09:48 AM
For all the pessimism and gloom of recent days, once we're past 2008, the US will pass immigration reform that will probably be enormously beneficial to New York in general, and to the population of Queens in particular. The main barrier, getting past a filibuster in the Senate, will be gone in 2008 regardless of what happens in the general election, and for all the tough talk among GOP front runners, they won't veto a popular reform package as long as it pays lip service to the Dobbs crowd.

December 9th, 2007, 05:33 PM
Dobbs...I've never seen a 'news' personality make one single issue so much his own. He's like the anti-immigration poster boy.

December 10th, 2007, 12:07 AM
Aschwarz, I'm not any more wrong than you could be. We are both guessing albeit, with good cases for each argument.

Mine is that the Census Bureau came out with the 2005 figures and the City contested it based on the premise newly added housing units and what I'm saying is that quite a few of those (yes, even in the boroughs although less so) are investments and aren't occupied.

Add to that is the loss of the middle class, which due to families significantly add to population figures. The group that has replaced them are yuppies and as you know, they are single, childless.

The modest gains in the boroughs may be offset by the loss in Manhattan leading to an overall minimal gain. Even looking at it optimistically, I don't think the gain is as big as you cited, which was half a million in the decade. I don't think so.

The city as a whole has become tremendously expensive since 2000. Before then, quite a few outerborough neighborhood were still affordable but that is no longer the case. Even places like Bed-Stuy is becoming gentrified.

By 2011, we will find out that I was right all along.

December 10th, 2007, 12:14 AM
^While this is true, it isn't unique to New York, and it doesn't represent across-the-board increases in living costs.

Real estate prices went up nearly twofold in some parts of the New York area in the past 6 or 7 years, but food, transportation, and other costs haven't nearly doubled. Real estate prices are in store for a major self-correction; in time, this will reflect itself in a slowing of gentrification. Those outerborough neighborhoods that you speak of will remain, or become more, affordable, over time.

December 10th, 2007, 01:46 AM
By 2011, we will find out that I was right all along.

Antinimby, there is no reason to wait until 2011. The current annual population estimates are no different than the decennial Census. The Census has converted all annual counts (including the decennial count) to the same sampling methodology.

The current population figures are the official population figures. Are you saying that you have a better handle on the city's population than the U.S. Census bureau? Are you saying that they are lying to us and NYC hasn't grown by a quarter million in five years?

I don't know what you mean by affordability. Most of the city is very affordable, even to working-class immigrants. I know people with $40,000 salaries who own $700,000 homes. These immigrants pool their money with various family members, and buy a two- or three-family house in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx. This is probably the most common buying arrangement in the Outer Boroughs.

I also don't understand what you mean by investors buying new buildings. Wealthy international types are not buying condos in Borough Park, Flushing, or Morris Park. These new developments are for growing ethnic or religious enclaves. Anyways, you don't need new construction for growth. All you need are new immigrants who are willing to crowd into existing housing.

December 10th, 2007, 07:48 PM
I don't know what you mean by affordability. Most of the city is very affordable, even to working-class immigrants. I know people with $40,000 salaries who own $700,000 homes. These immigrants pool their money with various family members, and buy a two- or three-family house in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx. This is probably the most common buying arrangement in the Outer Boroughs.

Aschwarz is very much right, people in the outer boroughs tend to buy 2-3 family units because they seem much more affordable and more productive. As well I will estimate that at least 60 % of Queens and about 90% of Jamaica, Queens is residential thus calling for a less urbanized style of living. However finding rent is hard nowadays as well as getting a 10% required down payment is slowing down the real estate market decreasing the affordability of housing in NYC considerably.

I also don't understand what you mean by investors buying new buildings. Wealthy international types are not buying condos in Borough Park, Flushing, or Morris Park. These new developments are for growing ethnic or religious enclaves. Anyways, you don't need new construction for growth. All you need are new immigrants who are willing to crowd into existing housing.

Wealthy international types are not really buying condos and houses in the outer boroughs. They tend to stay in Manhattan. But if you look closely, places like downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City are seeing scores of new highrises because strong Manhattanite intellectualls are starting to move in Queens and Brooklyn. Hopefully we'll see this trend in Jamaica.

December 10th, 2007, 07:59 PM
i think Jamaica is too far from Manhattan to get the people who are moving to LIC. But they may get something better - hard working immigrant families from Flushing and Forest Hills. To some extent, the Korean merchandise mart is a Flushing style business relocating to Jamaica as a result of rezoning. The hotel they build there will probably be a McSam is my guess, reflecting more Flushing expansion. And if a company like JetBlue relocated their offices to Jamaica (I'm not sure why they don't expand there instead of their comparatively inconvenient Forest Hills digs) that will also help.

I say leave LIC to the artists and Jamaica can get solid increasingly affluent families who in practice are really the people who are going to build the enduring future of New York and what differentiate New York from living in a town like Chicago that has lost its immigrant flow.

December 17th, 2007, 06:14 PM
I made a rough overview of the current development going on around Jamaica that I posted in another Forum:

Map of approved plan:


Sutphin Boulevard, site of the Airtrain (Today) :



The Sutphin Boulevard of the future:


Rendering of the Overall Project:


Projects Initiated so far:

International Merchandise mart(13 storey building with 3 story mall) at corner of 94th Ave. and Sutphin Boulevard, expected completion date 2011.
Mix-use Retail and Hotel Building (10 storey building) directly acroos from the International Merchandise mart, completion date 2010
Retail development under the LIRR underpass at 91st and 93rd Ave. and Sutphin Boulevard, expected completion date 2008
Station Plaza - widening Archer Ave., provding greenery along the street, relocated subway entrances, expected completion date 2009
Gateway Plaza - Extending Atlantic Ave into Sutphin Boulevard connecting it with the Downtown area, completion date scheduled at 2009
15 storey Highrise at Parsons Boulevard being built for Retail, rent stabilized housing, and condominiums. Completion date set for 2009.

January 23rd, 2008, 10:38 AM
A Neighbor Joins the Revival of Jamaica Avenue

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/01/23/business/23queensB.190.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/01/23/business/23queens.600.jpg
Two blocks from Jamaica Avenue, left, the Queens Family Court building, right, is being redeveloped.

Published: January 23, 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/realestate/commercial/23queens.html)

The Dermot Company, a real estate developer in Manhattan, often invests in historic buildings and emerging neighborhoods. Three years ago, it took on both challenges when its development proposal to remake the old Queens Family Court building in downtown Jamaica was accepted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

There, the company had to deal with an empty 75,000-square-foot four-story municipal building, with an ornate Italian Renaissance-style facade the development corporation wanted to keep intact, but which was sloppily renovated inside and paired with a nondescript annex building in 1966.

Along with a parking lot, the two buildings sat on a two-acre site at Parsons Boulevard and 89th Avenue, two blocks from Jamaica Avenue.

In 2005, a long-unfolding revival was already under way on Jamaica Avenue, but the street, a busy shopping district, was still home to a large number of discount stores and fast-food chains.

Dermot planned to keep the front of the courthouse and its facade, demolish the annex building and turn the rest of the site into a large mixed-use project that would be attractive to higher-quality retailers and offer low- and middle-income and market-rate housing. The company now plans to offer 346 units of housing.

At the time of its bid, market-rate housing was still rare in Jamaica, but the company was banking on the success of the Opal, an upscale housing project it had recently completed in Kew Gardens Hills, about a mile and a half away.

Jamaica is a busy transportation hub and a major center for government buildings, and now the courthouse project looks especially timely.

Local officials say residential development in the area began picking up after a terminal for the AirTrain to Kennedy International Airport opened in 2003, making the area more attractive to airport workers and travelers. The interest rose even more after the 2005 opening, a few blocks from the courthouse project, of Yorkside Towers on 161st Street, which was the first market-rate rental housing to come to the area in 30 years.

Last fall, the City Council approved a huge rezoning plan that limited development in certain areas of Jamaica but encouraged higher and denser development in others, like the area around the AirTrain transit hub.

On Jamaica Avenue, change is continuing as well. The street is scheduled to become home to a 400-seat performing arts center in the spring, and lately a growing number of banks and drugstores have joined the ranks of the mostly local businesses, which sell items like African clothing and beauty supplies.

In 2002, a large retail center, Jamaica Center, brought a 15-screen multiplex to the avenue, as well as stores like Gap and Old Navy. Last year, meanwhile, there was the much-heralded arrival of a 47,000-square-foot Marshalls store and a Home Depot.

Still, local officials say downtown Jamaica can still use higher-quality retailers, as well as a supermarket, sit-down restaurants, a large electronics retailer and perhaps even a small department store.

“There are national retailers here, but not enough,” said F. Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit group. “We have plenty of moms-and-pops, but we really need quality retail chains.”

Dermot hopes its courthouse project, where development is already under way and where the costs are expected to reach $194 million, will offer the large modern retail space that many national retailers find hard to come by locally. It would also provide a more affordable home for retailers that want to be on a major road that leads to the downtown area but cannot afford Jamaica Avenue, where some rents lately have reached $150 a square foot.

The company plans to ask for rents of $40 to $100 a square foot.

Plans call for adding a 12-story residential tower to the back of the courthouse building, with an entrance along 89th Avenue.

Shoppers, meanwhile, would enter the building through the current courthouse entrance, where a large plaza inside would be flanked by community space, as well as two large retail “boxes” on both sides of the plaza. The building would offer 55,000 square feet of retail space on three floors.

Alex Adams, the Dermot executive who is overseeing the project, said his company would like a mix of local and national retailers at the site, as well as two sit-down restaurants, which might inject more life into downtown Jamaica at night. “We think the area is underserved in certain key areas,” he said.

The project is also expected eventually to offer, in an underground garage, some 500 parking spots, “a rarity in Jamaica,” said Kenneth Hochhauser, a senior managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail, the real estate company that is marketing retail space at the site.

“The parking here will allow us to draw regional tenants like a Trader Joe’s, Food Emporium, Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse,” he said, citing those companies as examples.

Real estate professionals say the downtown area is already reaping benefits from the new Home Depot and Marshalls. Both, they say, are in an area that used to have much less retail activity and are within 10 blocks of the courthouse project.

“This is a solid eastern bookend to the downtown area that was not there before,” said Frank Zuckerbrot, a partner at Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty in Long Island City.

Howard Dolch, an executive vice president at the Lansco Corporation, which is marketing 28,500 square feet of retail space next to the new Marshalls store, said: “This street is changing. We think we now have a much broader audience of tenants to choose from.”

Still, efforts are continuing to draw even more retailers. Last fall, the city’s economic development corporation began looking for a buyer for an old garage on 168th Street off Jamaica Avenue. The agency would like to see it remade into a mixed-use project combining housing with at least 35,000 square feet of retail space, which would also include space for a sit-down restaurant.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

January 23rd, 2008, 11:13 AM
The overall plan is good but I have trouble with certain details of this project. Apparently they are demolishing a significant portion of the actual Courthouse (not the annex portion) and enveloping it with that horrible green tumor.


Isn't the annex and the rear parking lot large enough for them to build the residential portion (the real reason why they're doing this) instead of having to removing a good chunk of the beautiful Courthouse? In other words, couldn't they just leave the whole Courthouse building alone without getting rid of any part of it?

I'm starting to really despise the developers in this city. Even when they supposedly are doing something right, they've always got to do other things wrong. :mad:

January 26th, 2008, 11:56 AM
I hate the design too. But maybe they tried to build the residential portion without altering the courthouse yet they were unsuccessful. Also even though the area was rezoned, the rezoning does not fully permit developments to their absolute requirements.

January 30th, 2008, 06:22 PM
Btw did the new york times really publish that article about the courthouse renovation at the end of january? they are pretty late arent they? that project was initiated about a year ago, i still the remember the anounce about it in the GJDC website.

April 7th, 2008, 05:39 PM


April 7, 2008 (http://www.nypost.com/seven/04072008/news/regionalnews/new_mall_beneath_lirr_stop_105366.htm) -- An MTA printing facility beneath Long Island Rail Road tracks in Queens will soon be transformed into a brand-new shopping area.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has entered into a long-term lease with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take over 12,000 square feet on Sutphin Boulevard under the LIRR's Jamaica station.

The $12 million rehab is one of several infrastructure upgrades for the planned JFK-Corporate Square adjoining the AirTrain and LIRR stations in Jamaica.

The $100 million project involves major renovations to streets and parks. Officials hope it will attract housing as well as hotels serving business people flying into Kennedy.

The project is expected to be finished in late 2009.

"We're thrilled to be working with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation to revitalize a part of Jamaica that has been dormant too long," said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the MTA.

Copyright 2008 NYP Holdings, Inc.

April 8th, 2008, 07:33 AM
'Airport village' in Jamaica, Queens

Tuesday, April 8th 2008, 4:00 AM

http://www.nydailynews.com/img/2008/04/08/amd_merchandise-mart.jpg Rendering of Merchandise Mart on Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica.

Major hotel development - including a 16-story Marriott Courtyard with 172 rooms, a 150-room Residence Inn and a third 150-room hotel - is planned for a proposed "airport village" in downtown Jamaica, Queens (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jamaica+(New+York)).

The sudden boom is the result of the rezoning of some 368 blocks in downtown Jamaica last year, said Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Greater+Jamaica+Development+Corp.)

"The bottom line is that the rezoning has definitely had a stimulative effect. The phone rings off the hook here. Of course, some are fishing expeditions; some are real developers, and some are people who own property and think they have struck gold," Towery said.

Greater Jamaica Development officials would also like to see an upsurge in housing construction within the rezoned area, noting that the nearby AirTrain light rail system makes it a very desirable location for airport workers. They're hoping that airline industry-related commercial development will also be attracted.

South of the Long Island Rail Road (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Long+Island+Rail+Road+Company)/AirTrain complex on Sutphin Blvd.,
Jamaica-based developer Graham Associates is planning a two-phase project that includes the Marriott Courtyard and a tower with a 150,000-square-foot retail base and 348 units of affordable housing.

Plans call for work to begin in about a year, with the $70 million hotel up and running in 21/2 years.

Diagonally across Sutphin Blvd., between 94th and 95th Aves., is the site of a proposed 13-story, $260 million international merchandise mart, where a long-vacant, recently demolished meat-packing plant stood.
"We think our site is a tremendous opportunity to realize economic development objectives for Jamaica and we are very excited about it," said Raffaela Dunne (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Raffaela+Dunne), a senior vice president of Washington Square Partners (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Washington+Square+Partners), developers for the merchandise mart site.

Construction of the new complex is to begin in the third quarter of this year and is scheduled to take about three years.

A former parking garage site that sits on Archer Ave. with its rear facing the LIRR tracks just across from 148th St. is being eyed by Chris Xu (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Xu), owner of Flushing (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Flushing+(New+York))-based C&G Construction, for the Residence Inn and a second hotel.

However, said Xu, neither hotel is expected to open for at least three years.


Copyright 2008 THe New York Daily News.

October 7th, 2008, 07:27 PM
Your Nabe

Historic Jamaica chapel reopens after restoration

151-year-old building refurbished to house performance space, renamed after jazz great Jacquet

By Ivan Pereira
Monday, October 6, 2008 11:06 AM EDT

http://images.townnews.com/yournabe.com/content/articles/2008/10/07/queens/jackson_heights_times_newshistoricja10022008.jpg (http://www.yournabe.com/content/articles/2008/10/07/queens/jackson_heights_times_newshistoricja10022008.jpg)
Marcia Keizs (from l.), Borough President Helen Marshall, City Councilman Leroy Comrie, Cate Ludlum, Dorothy Lewandowski and Deputy Parks Commissioner Wint Aldrich. Photo by Ivan Pereira

When Nicholas Ludlam built the Chapel of the Three Sisters in Jamaica in 1857, he wanted to create a lasting memorial to his three deceased daughters, his descendant Cate Ludlam said.

Over the decades that followed, however, the Romanesque Revival structure and Prospect Cemetery, located in the rear, went through a long period of decay and were forgotten by the public.

"Every day, hundreds of students would pass this building and did not know its significance," Parks Department Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said about the chapel located within York College's campus.

Last week the chapel was successfully restored to its former glory and reworked to keep the memory alive of another Queens legend.

Lewandowski, Cate Ludlam, and Borough President Helen Marshall were among the many guests on hand Sept. 23 for the reopening of the restored chapel, which will now be called the Illinois Jacquet Performance Space.

Over the last year, a team of restorers overseen by the Prospect Cemetery Association, led by Cate Ludlam, was hard at work, clearing the overgrown shrubs, cleaning the dirtied walls and repairing broken stained glass windows.

"I was shocked to see the grounds," Ludlam said. "What we see here today is when people with foresight work together, they can accomplish anything."

Calls for renovation began around 1999, and thanks to a grant from Marshall and help from the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., work began in April 2007, according to the nonprofit group New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Although the chapel still contains many religious images, including carved Psalm passages on its walls, it will be adapted for a more artistic purpose by York College. Students and faculty will be able to use the building as a multi-purpose performance space for all types of shows that will be open to the public, York President Marcia Keizs said.

The space is dedicated to famed jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet. Jacquet, who lived in southeast Queens, performed dozens of hit tunes, including the sax solo "Flying Home." The musical number was played for the audience as the guests cut the ribbon, officially opening the space.

"This is another chapter in the rich history of Jamaica," Keizs said.

The efforts to improve the city-owned landmark site, are far from over, according to Marshall. She said her office will work to find ways to fund a renovation of the cemetery, which dates back to the 17th century.

"We all love to read history, but to touch history is fascinating," she said.

Copyright © 2008 News Community Newspapers Holdings, Inc. .

October 8th, 2008, 03:22 AM
Hi NYC4,

There is a thread for this subject HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=253231&postcount=3)

November 20th, 2008, 07:58 PM
NY Daily News

Make-over coming to Jamaica strip

Thursday, November 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

The long-awaited plan for an "airport village" in downtown Jamaica (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jamaica) is ready for takeoff.

After a year of bureaucratic delays, officials Wednesday signaled the start of a $12 million project to turn a "foreboding" stretch of sidewalk near the Jamaica train station into a commercial hub catering to commuters.

The project, hatched in 2002, is the first phase of a $100 million economic revitalization of downtown Jamaica that aims tap into the area's importance as a key transit link to JFK Airport (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/John+F.+Kennedy+International+Airport).

The first phase, known as the Sutphin Underpass Project, will create 5,500 square feet of retail space by revamping the eastern side of a viaduct that carries the Long Island Rail Road (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Long+Island+Rail+Road+Company) over Sutphin Blvd., between Archer and 94th Aves.

"Jamaica, with its proximity to the airport and incredible transportation amenities, serves as the gateway to our city," Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Robert+C.+Lieber) said in a statement. "The improvements to the Sutphin Underpass, as well as those planned throughout the area, will help make Jamaica a more attractive place to live, work and do business."

The Port Authority previously renovated the western side of the Sutphin Underpass into a gleaming terminal for the AirTrain. But the eastern stretch, with a series of gritty loading docks, was left untouched.

"Right now, it's a frightening, foreboding place that is not very well maintained," said Peter Engelbrecht (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Peter+Engelbrecht), an executive for the project's developer, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Greater+Jamaica+Development+Corp.)

The unsightly loading docks will be redesigned and turned away from the sidewalk, allowing for glass-front stores and a brighter, more pedestrian-friendly streetscape, Engelbrecht said.

A contractor is expected to be selected next week. Construction is expected to start in February and finish in July 2010.

The $100 million downtown revitalization includes federal, state and city funding. It seeks to spur private development by redesigning the transit hub at Sutphin Blvd. and Archer Ave., where the LIRR, AirTrain, subways and bus routes converge.

"It will be a major turning point for Jamaica," said Simone Price (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Simone+Price), executive director of the Sutphin Blvd. Business Improvement District.

The second phase, expected to start in 2010, will connect Atlantic Ave. with 95th Ave. to improve access from the Van Wyck Expressway to the transit hub.

The final stage, to begin the following year, will overhaul the intersection of Sutphin Blvd. and Archer Ave.

© Copyright 2008 NYDailyNews.com. All rights reserved.

April 9th, 2009, 07:03 AM
April 08, 2009 6:06 PM

NY officials scramble to land JetBlue’s HQ

Queens congressman says city and state officials are trying to convince airline to relocate from current Forest Hills location to planned office tower in Jamaica.

By Elisabeth Butler Cordova (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=17)

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=CN&Date=20090409&Category=FREE&ArtNo=904089966&Ref=AR&maxw=319&border=0 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=CN&Date=20090409&Category=FREE&ArtNo=904089966&Ref=AR&maxw=800)Photo by Bloomberg News

City and state officials are trying their best to wave JetBlue Airways Corp. in for a touchdown in Jamaica, Queens.

“We think the best place for JetBlue to permanently land is Jamaica,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-Queens. “We believe we can build them a state-of-the-art facility there.”

The lease on JetBlue’s Forest Hills headquarters expires in 2012, and various news reports have suggested that the company is looking not only at Jamaica, but also Orlando or Tampa, Fla., as potential relocation targets. JetBlue officials have so far declined to comment on its search other than to say it is considering possible relocation sites both inside the metropolitan area and outside New York state.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has been working toward redeveloping downtown Jamaica as an airline-business hub for companies that serve nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport. The area, which includes a planned 500,000-square-foot Class A office tower across from the AirTrain Terminal, has been informally dubbed “JFK Square.”

Mr. Meeks said city and state representatives have been talking to JetBlue officials for weeks to convince the airline to settle in Jamaica. “The mayor is focused on trying to make sure JetBlue stays in New York,” he said.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. said it expects to receive a request for proposals from JetBlue soon.

“The city understands the importance of JetBlue as a corporate citizen and will continue to work diligently and responsibly to keep and grow its operations within the five boroughs,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the EDC, in a statement.

JetBlue employs more than 800 people at its three office locations in the metropolitan area, with the majority working in the Forest Hills building. The airline also operates smaller offices in Garden City, N.Y., and Darien, Conn.

In 2008, JetBlue opened its new Terminal 5 at JFK.


© 2009 Crain Communications, Inc.

April 9th, 2009, 07:13 AM
April 08, 2009 2:42 PM

Mass transit is key as JetBlue mulls HQ relocation

The lease on the airline's Forest Hills headquarters expires in 2012; a move to the suburbs is seen as unlikely.

By Elisabeth Butler Cordova (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=17)

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=CN&Date=20090408&Category=FREE&ArtNo=904089982&Ref=AR&maxw=319&border=0 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=CN&Date=20090408&Category=FREE&ArtNo=904089982&Ref=AR&maxw=800)Photo by Bloomberg News

As JetBlue Airways Corp. weighs the notion of relocating its corporate headquarters, perhaps even out of New York City, a real estate insider says the company will put excellent transportation access high on its priority list.

FULL ARTICLE (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20090408/FREE/904089982)

© 2009 Crain Communications, Inc.

June 24th, 2010, 05:56 AM
Luxury Rentals Infiltrate Jamaica, Devour Everything in Their Path

June 23, 2010, by Joey


We don't often get invited to grand opening parties out in Jamaica, but Moda is trying to do something different from its eastern Queens brethren. The rental building, made up of studios/1BRs/2BRs, has the look and feel (and marketing) of a new luxury rental building way out west, in Manhattan. Concierge? Check. Fitness center? Yup. Landscaped roof deck? You know it! Even the URL is a bit snooty: modaupgradedliving.com (http://www.modaupgradedliving.com/). You can head there to see a photo gallery (http://www.modaupgradedliving.com/apartments/gallery.html) of the building's insides, but what we'd really love to see is a photo of Moda's exterior, because is it just us, or is the rendering slightly insane?
It almost looks like a glassy flesh-eating bacteria is swallowing an old building whole. Is that the case? Here's how Moda's website describes the design:
As a brand new building, Moda’s distinct architecture incorporates modern-day elegance with the former building’s brick and stone façade. And while the exterior offers a glimpse into the building’s rich history, the interior offers a look into the future of the Jamaica area — providing residents with the most up-to-date services and amenities available.Is this what they mean by teaching an old dog new tricks? The 346-unit LEED-certified building has a chunk of affordable housing inside, and the market-rate availabilities currently listed on the site range from $1,115 to $2,292 per month. Seems reasonable, and remember, the AirTrain is your oyster!

Moda (http://www.modaupgradedliving.com/) [modaupgradedliving.com]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/06/23/luxury_rentals_infiltrate_jamaica_devour_everythin g_in_their_path.php

August 15th, 2010, 02:34 AM
The two Jamaicas: In Queens, it's a world of rising development and falling property values

By Lynn Miller
Foreclosed home on 142nd St.

Jamaica, Queens, is full of contradictions.

South Jamaica has earned the dubious distinction of being New York’s hub of foreclosures and mortgage fraud. At the same time, new residential and commercial developments in downtown Jamaica give community leaders reason to feel optimistic.

The neighborhoods are roughly than 2 miles apart. Walking south along Sutphin Blvd. from downtown, you see an odd repetition of churches, auto body shops and rusty chain link fences that don’t stand straight.

Weeks ago, police blocked off an area at Sutphin and South Road that had been the scene of a shooting. Signs promoting short sales, land bankruptcies and tax lien help are stuck on light posts. Yet on some residential blocks where owners have lost homes, there are no signs of distress.

On one block where multiple homes have gone through foreclosures, there were three “for sale” signs in front yards. The weeds were abundant and one garage was boarded up. Still, many homes appeared to be well-tended from the outside. Neglected bank-owned homes and well-maintained houses that are not in distress make uneasy neighbors, especially for owners trying to sell.

Of course, property values have fallen. Single-family homes that would have been priced in the high-$300,000 range before the crash are priced in the low-$300,000 range.

Many homes sit on the market for 90 days or more, says Dayton Parkinson, an agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty, who works with investors and buyers hunting for bargains in the area. Some sellers are pulling their homes off the market, as they wait for prices to come back up.

"There’s a lot of inventory,” says Parkinson. "Homeowners are competing with short sales and bank-owned properties. If there’s a bank-owned property on the block, it eventually brings down [values] on the entire block."

Inside the distressed homes, Parkinson sees the ugly effects of the foreclosure mess: broken windows, destroyed boilers, missing gas meters, mold.

"The bank-owned properties on the market are really run-down," he says.

A couple of miles north, Drew Spitler sees the brighter side of Jamaica. His development firm, the Manhattan-based Dermot Company, was selected by the New York City Economic Development Corporation to redevelop an old courthouse in downtown Jamaica.

There, Spitler sees what could be the best side of the community: People shopping, folks enjoying street fairs and movies in Rufus King Park, and workers in hard hats building new projects. That all brings positive energy to an area that hasn’t always been so vital to the success of the New York City-Long Island border.

"It’s a neighborhood in transformation," Spitler says.

On a hot, windy rooftop, he and a group of developers, legislators, borough and city leaders and other officials recently celebrated Dermot’s $194 million mixed-use redevelopment. Called the Moda, the stylish new rental building at 89th Ave. and Parsons Blvd. offers 346 units of low- and moderate-income and market-rate apartments as well as commercial space. A
supermarket will open on the ground floor later this year.

The size and quality of the Moda make it a standout, but it’s not the only new project planned for the area. At least two other rental apartment buildings are under construction or planned.

One block away from the Moda, a four-story, state-of-the-art public elementary school is rising at the site of a former auto dealership. The school should be completed in 2012. Two new hotels, a Marriott Courtyard and a Four Points by Sheraton, are planned as well.

"There are investments being made, and that’s important,” Spitler says. "Everyone has an interest in the area. Everyone’s working hard to make it a better area."

While some believe the downtown could use higher quality restaurants and stores, the neighborhood already attracts thousands of shoppers every week. Established shopping and convenient transportation sold Dermot officials on the neighborhood’s potential.

At the Moda, people are surprised to find stainless steel appliances, granite counters, parquet wood floors and balconies in the apartments, and amenities such as a gym, children’s playroom, high-tech laundry room and 24-hour concierge service.

"There’s nothing like this building around the neighborhood," says Michael Hyman, who oversees leasing at the Moda for Dermot.

If the rapid pace of leasing continues, Spitler believes the building could be fully leased by the end of next month.

"I never thought we’d do 40 leases in one week,” he says. “It far exceeds our expectations. Our leasing center is packed every single day."

On Moda’s website, marketers touted two months of free rent. With those concessions built into the lease, available studios start renting at $1,375, while one-bedrooms were available for $1,667 a month, making this one of the least expensive big-developer new construction buildings in all of New York.

New resident Lorene Cowan, who also works in the Moda’s on-site leasing office, likes the ethnic diversity she sees in her neighbors. The newcomers include professional couples in their 20s and 30s, many with jobs on Long Island and in Manhattan, she says.

"The face of Jamaica is changing," Cowan says. "It’s a lively community. It’s full of energy."

Immigrants rent many of the modest homes built in the 1960s and ’70s that can be found along downtown’s tree-lined residential blocks. Many houses have garages and some have front yards bursting with flowers and garden statues.

Mostly small independent shops, bank branches, fast-food restaurants, hair-braiding shops and municipal buildings line the downtown’s busy streets. It’s not uncommon to see
"iglesia," "farmacia" and other signs in Spanish, or women in saris carrying shopping bags along the commercial corridors.

In the last decade, the historically African-American neighborhood has seen an influx of residents from South and Central America, Bangladesh and India.

Few other New York neighborhoods can top this one for convenient transportation. The E, J and Z subway lines all stop at the Sutphin Blvd. transit hub, locally known as the “Jamaica Station,” as does the Long Island Rail Road and the Air Train, which whisks travelers to Kennedy Airport in about seven minutes.

"Change at Jamaica." It’s a common refrain heard on the Long Island Rail Road. Instead of changing modes of transportation, community leaders want to see downtown become a place where people live and have fun.

A huge New York City rezoning in 2007 laid the foundation for new high-density residential and commercial development aimed at capitalizing on the abundant transportation. The rezoning, combined with a lot of support from civic leaders, is starting to pay off though not as quickly as leaders would have liked. Financing for new developments is hard to get, so some projects are not as far along as they would have been before the recession.

"We wished things had moved faster," says Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a community group that’s been spearheading growth in the area for more than a decade.

"We’re very optimistic," Towery says. "We feel good about what’s happening."

Before Dermot took on the project, the courthouse had been a scene of loitering and garbage-dumping.

"The Moda will help enhance downtown Jamaica," says Yvonne Reddick, district manager for Community Board 12.

While nobody expects South Jamaica’s troubles to go away anytime soon, many believe the improvement downtown will bring up surrounding areas.

Spitler says his company would consider downtown for future projects.

"The more that happens down here, the more it’ll help the rest of Jamaica," he says.

http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2010/08/06/2010-08-06_the_two_jamaicas_in_queens_its_a_world_of_risin g_development_and_falling_propert.html#ixzz0weZnqU Ho