BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Last week, Borough President Melinda Katz announced the allocation of $1.1 million in capital funds to pay for streetscape improvements along commercial corridors in several neighborhoods.
The goal is to create more attractive commercial shopping districts to ensure the development of the surrounding neighborhoods. The improvements are intended to enhance and revitalize the districts to promote business development and encourage residents to shop at local establishments.
The funding of the seven projects totals $1,110, 950. Katz worked with local neighborhood organizations to determine the best ways she could allocate the funding, which will be distributed through several City agencies.
“The commercial corridors found in the diverse neighborhoods throughout Queens are key assets and economic engines for our Borough,” Katz said. “The funds I am allocating to enhance these commercial corridors will help maximize their potential as retail centers and civic gathering places. These capital improvements will help our Borough’s small businesses create jobs and offer quality goods and services for many years to come.”
The project in Downtown Jamaica consists of 102 pedestrian arms and luminaires that will be attached to the current light poles along Jamaica Avenue between 169th Street and Sutphin Boulevard. The new arms will focus more light on the sidewalk to create a safer and more comfortable area for shopping.
Felicia Tunnah, executive director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District, said that the $229,000 grant will be allocated at the start of the fiscal year on July 1 and go directly to the Dept. of Transportation.
“We’re really excited that Melinda Katz recognizes the importance of having additional lighting in Downtown Jamaica to help business,” Tunnah said. “The idea is to create a safer feel. We hope it will lead more stores to stay open later and more shoppers to shop later.”
The Farmers Boulevard corridor will see the addition of trees and plantings in the lot at 99th Avenue and Farmers Boulevard and the creation of a green street at the intersection of Murdock Avenue and Farmers Boulevard.
Isa Abdur-Rahman, executive director of the Farmers Boulevard Community Development Corporation, said the $100,000 will go primarily to the DOT for the construction, but it could get some assistance from the City Parks Dept.
“The visual improvements of the green space will make it more attractive to pedestrians and enhance traffic to the area,” he said. “We are open to and interested in getting ongoing feedback from the community. We encourage folks to reach out to us if they have any ideas on how to continue to improve the district.”
There are going to be two separate projects on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven. At the Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard intersection, a new green street with trees and plantings will be built with a $75,000 grant.
Another $250,000 grant is going towards the installation of energy efficient LED street lights underneath the elevated subway along Jamaica Avenue.
“We’re really delighted with this money and we’re looking forward to a beautified and much better Jamaica,” Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, said. “The greenery will enhance our community of Woodhaven and the new lighting will improve our safety as well as positively affect our quality of life. I really want to thank the Borough President because we are so grateful.”
The commercial district in Sunnyside will be getting a consistent tree line along Queens Boulevard between 38th and 50th Streets and on Greenpoint Avenue between 45th and 47th Streets.
The $56, 950 project, which will be done in the fall, is being handled by the Parks Dept. and will add 27 new trees and tree guards, as well as filling empty tree beds, according to Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.
“We want more trees because it looks good and people want to walk along a street with more trees and we believe it will really benefit our businesses,” Thieme said. “We’re only able to do so much incrementally. This is a huge contribution that would’ve taken us years to fulfill.”
The $200,000 project on Steinway Street will consist of building green space around the Steinway Clock between 30th and 31st Avenues and in the municipal lot between Broadway and 31st Avenue.
“It has been a long-time vision of ours to green the surroundings of the landmarked Steinway Clock and add a green space in the municipal lot,” Marie Torniali, executive director of the Steinway Astoria Partnership, said. “We are most grateful to Borough President Katz for enabling us to bring the vision to fruition.”
The final $200,000 project is on Beach 116th Street where there is going to be improvements to the streetscape, including fencing and directional guides from Beach Channel Drive to the ocean.
“Any money being put towards Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park is a home run for the betterment of that area,” Danny Ruscillo Jr., president of the 100th Precinct Community Council, said.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons.