BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Throughout the year, five businesses on Sutphin Boulevard will start to implement façade improvement projects thanks to a Dept. of Small Business Services and the Economic Development Corporation Neighborhood Challenge grant.
The Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District secured the $95,000 grant through the City initiative, which supports innovative and catalytic projects that solve small business challenges and generate community and economic impacts.
Simone Price, executive director of the Sutphin BID, said that the improvements will provide a more attractive, consistent and welcoming environment for consumers.
“It will translate into people actually walking into the stores instead of walking by,” Price said. “We want to create an area that you see a visual impact so that we can use this as sort of bargaining power to get more projects like this done. The key to this is bringing resources into the community.”
One goal of the pilot program is to demonstrate the significance of financial investments to retail operators on the commercial corridor.
In addition to the City funding, business or property owners will contribute 20 percent of the total construction costs of each project. The BID will also use assessment funds to hire a project manager to manage the operations of the program through its completion.
Elizabeth Pilarte, owner of Party Moments on Sutphin Boulevard, said she is very excited about the grant that will help bring more customers into local businesses.
“We would love everyone to come to Jamaica and Sutphin Boulevard to make this place part of their lives,” Pilarte said. “Where they can come every day and make a beautiful shopping area where they can find every single need of everyday life.”
The BID has recommended storefront guidelines to interested business owners that can include improving awnings, security gates, signage, lighting and storefront windows.
Owners are required to apply to be a part of the program and applicants must operate a retail establishment within 500 feet of a train station, own at least two contiguous parcels within the BID and demonstrate a financial commitment to the project.
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) said that he was encouraged that the City recognized the hard work and perseverance of the BID and he hopes their work serves as an inspiration for local businesses.
“Simone Price and her team have done an incredible job here,” he said. “Their commitment to serve Jamaica and its surrounding communities is a benefit to all who frequent and live in the area.”
Construction on the projects is expected to begin by the summer and completed before the end of the year.
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) thanked SBS and the EDC for recognizing the growing activity in the area.
“This grant will be transformative in attracting more economic interest, investment and development in a booming neighborhood in Queens,” he said. “Downtown Jamaica has an incredibly bright future and this is just the latest in a line of great news for the community.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, email@example.com or @jgibbons2.