New York State Agencies to Collaborate With Regional Economic Development Council Investments Will Revitalize Downtown Jamaica in New York City, Modernize Infrastructure, Boost Queens County Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the winning projects selected for the neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens in New York City as part of the state’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI aims to transform local neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family. Working together with state agencies and the Regional Economic Development Council, Jamaica, Queens has built a strategic investment plan that identifies catalytic downtown projects consistent with the initiative’s goals.
"This critical investment in Jamaica's downtown will help it grow into a major economic hub that boosts small businesses, expands economic opportunity for residents, and draws new residents and visitors to the community," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will help transform downtown Jamaica into a bustling neighborhood, spurring economic development and creating a brighter future for residents and workers across the great borough of Queens."
Lieutenant Governor Hochul said, “Jamaica is poised for substantial job and economic growth as the Downtown Revitalization Initiative neighborhood for New York City. The projects announced today will capitalize on Jamaica’s higher education institutions, cultural cornerstones, diversity, and status as a transportation hub to increase its appeal to residents, workers, students and visitors, fueling its growth through career preparation, entrepreneurship programs, business creation and downtown improvements.”
The seven winning projects are:
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation Co-Working Space: Create a shared workspace for local entrepreneurs and independent professionals at the Moda Building, run by Greater Jamaica Development Corp. A 10,000-square-foot space centrally located in the DRI will be fully built out to provide affordable, flexible workspace and access to business equipment and services to startups, freelancers, and others. In total, the space will accommodate up to 90 users, and will be operated by GJDC in partnership with York College, which is a START-UP NY campus.
Bring High-Speed Broadband to Downtown Jamaica: Strengthen Jamaica’s broadband infrastructure to support the delivery of high-speed service to existing businesses and the public. The project will bridge two gaps in the conduit pathway so that new lines can be run to Jamaica, providing needed capacity, allowing for the installation of fixed wireless hubs to support Wi-Fi based broadband connectivity and a broadband market.
Conversion of Archer Archways - 159th Street into a Public Space: Create a public space around the Long Island Rail Road underpass at 159th Street - the key pedestrian gateway between York College and downtown Jamaica. Improvements will include overhead lighting, public art, seating, and event space. The space would be designed to allow for vendors to set up temporary stalls for commercial use.
Downtown Jamaica Gateway Improvements: Transform Jamaica Center into an inviting downtown gateway with a major expansion of pedestrian space and lighting and streetscape improvements. Enhance pedestrian space on Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues. The city will fund initial work to temporarily expand pedestrian sidewalk space resulting in a venue for enhanced public programming, later using DRI funds to reconstruct the street to make pedestrian improvements and streetscape elements permanent.
Fund for Dining Options Downtown: Improve dining options and nightlife activity in the downtown by establishing a Restaurant Startup Fund and establishing incubator space for new food businesses at the Jamaica Market. More dining options will attract and retain residents and workers. These funds will provide fully outfitted dedicated restaurant space and funding for fit-out and equipment in order to defray high industry startup costs. Four stalls will be provided at the Jamaica Market and a fund will be formed to support restaurant operators seeking to expand or open a new space downtown.
Prime Skills Entrepreneurship Fund: Expand Prime Skills, an entrepreneurship training program that helps low-income Jamaica residents launch or grow businesses. Project will support two additional program cohorts, expand mentorship and support to previous program graduates, and provide a fund to purchase equipment for program graduates. This workforce development program will allow the local community to participate in the economic growth of the DRI.
Career Prep at Edison High School: Enhance Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School’s nationally recognized Career and Technical Education programs. This project would provide funds for new equipment and software that will enable the CTE programs to stay on the leading edge and ensure graduates are job-ready for employment in the tech, design and health care sectors - growth industries in downtown Jamaica. Availability of a qualified workforce will support continued growth of these industries.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Communities across the State are grateful for Governor Cuomo’s focus on investing in local opportunities and sparking true economic growth. By funding downtown revitalization projects, New York State is ensuring that future generations can stay local and remain proud of their home state. I congratulate the Local Planning Committee for its due diligence and hard work in selecting award-worthy projects that will improve the lives of Jamaica residents."
NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo’s DRI program was created to recognize and reward the best in local, well-planned growth that anticipates and balances the needs of the current residents with the promise of new mixed-use development. Helping communities like Jamaica embark on a path that embraces renewal, fresh employment and housing opportunities, recreational and arts enrichment, and creating a more attractive and livable community guarantees a more vital future for all New Yorkers."
Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, “Without Governor Cuomo’s dedication and leadership, this project wouldn’t be possible. This $10 million investment will certainly improve the Jamaica community and invigorate our local economy. I congratulate the initial winning projects of the Jamaica, Queens Downtown Revitalization Initiative and I look forward to working with all our partners in building a stronger Jamaica.”
Senator Leroy Comrie said, “The DRI has come a long way in recent years—and it’s all thanks to the small business and civic leaders who have put forth this tremendous effort to realize their vision of what Downtown Jamaica should be. Funding these projects will help us unlock the full potential of the Downtown area. I look forward to continuing this work with local residents, my colleagues, and Governor Cuomo, whom we thank for his leadership.”
Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo for providing this wonderful opportunity to revitalize and invigorate Jamaica’s diverse downtown. These projects will not only improve public spaces for everyone to enjoy and spur investment in the area, but also place a premium on preparing the local community for jobs through educational programs, as well as entrepreneurship and workforce training.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, “Everyone has long recognized Jamaica's inherent potential for smart growth, and the 7 winning projects selected under Governor Cuomo's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative are critical to Downtown Jamaica's economic growth and development. This is a concerted, strategic investment toward revitalizing Jamaica's downtown core by enhancing education, entrepreneurship and public space. The selected projects are also consistent with the vision of the holistic and comprehensive Jamaica NOW Action Plan underway, and will make the area even more attractive to residents, businesses and investors."
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.
Jamaica was selected as the winning DRI community in the New York City region after the local regional Councilweighed seven criteria in selecting downtown Jamaica, Queens as its 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.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and how to apply for its second round, go to: https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov.