Peter Kulka, chairman of Greater Jamaica, (left)
said Jamaica needs reasons for people to stay in
the area after 5 p.m. and Justin Rodgers presented
developments that Greater Jamaica has helped get
off the ground. Photos by Bruce Adler.
BY JORDAN GIBBONS
At the affordable housing conference Tuesday morning, hosted by the Queens Tribune and the Press of Southeast Queens, representatives from Greater Jamaica Development Corporation spoke about their plans to improve affordable housing opportunities in the Downtown Jamaica area.
Peter Kulka, chairman of Greater Jamaica, said that the Bill de Blasio administration, Borough President Melinda Katz, the Regional Plan Association and other agencies are dedicated to making Jamaica flourish to a level it was many years ago.
“We need to focus on affordable housing and livability,” Kulka said. “We need a mix; a balance that will take care of the local populace and the middle class and the middle income; the upper income market. All these variables, we need to merge them all together so we can have the proper seeds to build a new and vibrant community.”
Kulka and several other speakers at the conference spoke about how Jamaica’s various means of transportation make it an ideal area for more urban renewal.
One sentiment echoed throughout the morning was that people can get anywhere in the world from Downtown Jamaica.
The Long Island Rail Road has 11 out of 12 lines passing through Jamaica, the E, J, Z and F subway lines go through the area and the AirTrain, which had 466,000 riders in August, provides riders easy access to John F. Kennedy International Airport. There are also 49 bus routes passing through Jamaica.
Justin Rodgers, managing director of real estate and economic development at Greater Jamaica, said their vision is to attract hospitality, retail and housing to Downtown Jamaica.
Greater Jamaica has helped secure property for Able Hotels, who are building a 20-story, full-service Hilton Garden hotel, which will have 240 rooms, across from the AirTrain.
The Blumenfeld Development Group is developing a 180,000-square-foot retail space at 168th Street between 90th Avenue and Jamaica Avenue. There is also going to be a 550-car garage across the street that will be connected to the retail space with a pedestrian bridge across 168th Street.
Greater Jamaica also acquired six parcels of land located at 93-01 Sutphin Blvd., at the corner of Archer Avenue, where BRP Companies has planned a two tower, 582 mixed-income unit housing development. BRP plans to set aside at least a quarter of the units for affordable housing. BRP hired the architecture firm FXFowle to draft renderings for the project. The renderings are expected to be released soon.
There is also going to be 100,000-square-feet of retail space on three levels of the development with 300 underground parking spaces.
BRP Companies is still in the final stages of negotiations and hope to close the property in January, Rodgers said. The construction on the development is expected to begin by the second quarter of 2015. The one thing delaying the closing has been Duane Reade, which previously had a store on the land and will be relocating back to the retail space once construction is complete, according to Rodgers.
“Everything is in place,” Rodgers said. “Everything is waiting on Duane Reade and Walgreens.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.