State to Collaborate with Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Downtown Jamaica
NYCREDC Project Will Transform Downtown Jamaica, Create Jobs and Boost Local Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Downtown Jamaica was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in New York City. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, first laid out in the Governor’s 2016 State of the State address, marks a comprehensive plan to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work.
The winner was selected as part of a competitive process by the state’s New York City Regional Economic Development Council and will receive funding to revitalize the local neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth and prosperity. The $10 million award will include up to $300,000 in planning funds for private sector experts to work with a local planning committee to draft a Strategic Investment Plan that will identify specific economic development, transportation, and housing projects. The grant is part of a $100 million effort to improve the urban vitality of city centers across the state. Plans will be completed by early 2017.
“Downtown neighborhoods are the heartbeat of communities across the state and investing in their revitalization is key to generating growth statewide,” Governor Cuomo said. “By capitalizing on Jamaica’s higher education institutions, cultural cornerstones and diversity, we are transforming it into a magnet for opportunity that will continue to attract private investment and generate economic activity for generations to come. This is the beginning of a new chapter in Jamaica’s economic success story and I look forward to seeing this vibrant core of Queens move forward.”
“Governor Cuomo's unprecedented Downtown Revitalization Initiative acknowledges that thriving urban centers are key to changing attitudes and bringing people back to our communities," Regional Economic Development Chair Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “I have seen first-hand how revitalizing one downtown can be transformative for an entire region. With support from the Regional Council, that's exactly what we expect will happen here.”
Capitalizing on Jamaica’s higher education institutions, cultural cornerstones & diversity, we are transforming it into a magnet for opportunity...to attract private investment & generate economic activity for generations to come.
Jamaica, Queens in New York City
As a vibrant mixed-use community with a central downtown and a multi-modal transit hub, Jamaica, Queens is on the cusp of a renaissance. Downtown Jamaica is experiencing a wave of private and public investments in infrastructure, housing, hospitality, retail and jobs. The DRI will build on existing public and private investments through a comprehensive strategy that will maximize community assets to become an affordable, livable and sustainable mixed-use community for residents, workers and visitors.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is chaired by former New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, along with a team of planners from the Department of State and private sector experts, with support from Empire State Development, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and other state agencies.
New York City Regional Economic Development Council weighed seven criteria in selecting their nominee:
1. The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
2. The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizeable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
3. The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
4. There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable.
5. The downtown must contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces.
6. The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, complete streets plans, or transit-oriented development; and
7. Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal James S. Rubin said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is another example of Governor Cuomo’s innovative approach to economic development.By building on existing assets, including high-quality housing that incorporates retail and other conveniences for people at a variety of income levels, we will help downtowns reach their full potential as attractive, affordable places to live and work. Congratulations to the 10 communities that put their best foot forward to win this funding. I look forward to seeing the results.”
Chair of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Cesar A. Perales said, “It was a pleasure working with all of the Regional Economic Development Councils throughout this community-driven process. The REDC members had a very difficult task in making their selections among the many strong candidates in each region. My thanks to the REDCs and my congratulations to the winning communities.”
Regional Economic Development Councils
Round VI of the REDC initiative will award more than $750 million in state funding and tax incentives. In 2016, all 10 REDCs will be competing for a designation as a Top Performer. Five Top Performers will be selected and will receive up to $25 million in Empire State Development Capital Grant funding, with the remaining five regions receiving up to $10 million. Additionally, each region will be eligible for up to $15 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow businesses in the region.
Regional Council priorities in 2016 include:
- Support the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Plan, and begin to identify priority projects in the defined community;
- Implementing strategies through the project pipeline;
- Training the workforce for today and tomorrow; and
- Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan and CFA projects.
By incentivizing the implementation of the strategic plans, Regional Councils, businesses, educational institutions, local governments, not-for-profit groups and other stakeholders are further motivated to work together to accomplish the regional vision. While project funding will be awarded to all 10 Regional Councils through the 2016 CFA, the competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies. Encouraging genuine cooperation among the REDCs and representatives of the community is critical to achieving economic development success.
In addition to the $10 million available to the winning Downtown Revitalization Initiative communities, state agencies will be awarding priority points through the CFA to additional downtown revitalization projects designed to transform communities ripe for development into vibrant, thriving neighborhoods.
Congressman Gregory M. Meeks said, “Jamaica is one of the crown jewels of New York City and this funding will further realize our collective vision for future growth. Downtown Jamaica is in the middle of a renaissance and this neighborhood serves as a bustling center for business, transit and culture. The award funding, part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, will continue this upward trend and help transform our economy to attract well-paying jobs and new business to our downtown center. I commend Governor Cuomo for investing in the future of our community, city, and region.”
Senator Leroy Comrie said, “With thriving academic institutions, cultural centers and world-class transportation infrastructure, Jamaica is a community on the rise. This funding will build on the good progress we have made by investing in affordable housing, improving the walkability of this vibrant neighborhood and attracting new retail and business opportunities for years to come. I look forward to working together with Governor Cuomo to keep the momentum moving forward in Jamaica and beyond.”
Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook said, “Downtown Jamaica is one of the most culturally and economic diverse neighborhoods in New York City. With this DRI funding, we will be able to preserve its historic character while also paving the way for future growth and continued prosperity. Ensuring Jamaica remains a viable place to live and work is central to our strategic plan – and I look forward to working with the regional council to realize that vision. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your tremendous leadership and for seeing the full potential of Jamaica.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said: “Queens lauds Governor Cuomo for his foresight into Downtown Jamaica's future. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a program that will impact the trajectory of Jamaica. This generous funding will significantly build upon the community-generated and -driven Jamaica NOW Action Plan currently underway toward the area's smart growth and revitalization. The funds will allow key investments to move forward in infrastructure, housing and retail opportunities, driving new economic growth and creating jobs. A critical component of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan includes our ability to ensure this vibrant neighborhood remains an affordable destination for families – and this investment from the Governor's Regional Economic Development Council will help to do just that. I look forward to our continued partnership in bringing growth and prosperity to Queens."
President & CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation Hope Knight said, “We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and the New York City Regional Council for recognizing the potential of our downtown area. This DRI funding will allow us to continue to grow the Queens economy, create jobs and transform our transportation infrastructure. By building on the tremendous progress we have made in recent years, this investment will invigorate Jamaica and ensure this area remains a valued place to live, work and raise a family for generations to come.”
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