The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) finally gave details on the potential uses of the recent $10 million grant that it received from the state over the summer.
In August, Governor Andrew Cuomo paid a visit to Southeast Queens to announce that the developing downtown Jamaica area was the recipient of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative project, which promised to breathe new life into local neighborhoods while simultaneously planting the seeds that will “potentially lead to new opportunities, long-term growth and prosperity.” Awarded by the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, the grant also included $300,000 in planning funds for private-sector experts to work with a local planning committee to draft a Strategic Investment Plan, identifying specific economic development, transportation and housing projects.
“Downtown neighborhoods are the heartbeat of communities across the state, and investing in their revitalization is key to generating growth statewide,” Cuomo said at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. “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.”
When the grant was awarded to Jamaica, Hope Knight, president of GJDC, told the Queens Tribune she’d like to see the money go towards CUNY York College in some capacity. While details were initially scarce on where this money would be going, some of the other possibilities for this grant were recently clarified.
“Our application for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative incorporated discussion of the projected uses for DRI funding,” a statement obtained by the Queens Tribune said. There were seven total possibilities according to a GJDC report, which projected uses for the $10 million grant. The first of these was to “create co-working space for local entrepreneurs in Downtown Jamaica.” Next was the idea to “implement a comprehensive workforce plan for new jobs coming to Jamaica.” It was explained that these new jobs would ideally include retail, construction, industrial, tourism and the seemingly booming hotel industry.
Another initiative included attracting “anchor tech businesses” which would “create a supportive infrastructure for smaller incubator businesses” as well as implementing some sort of neighborhood-wide training program that could provide a much-needed workforce to a more business-centric Downtown Jamaica.
The newly unified Downtown Jamaica BID would also benefit from the grant. With the grant, the BID, made up of the former 165th Street, Sutphin Boulevard and Jamaica Center BIDs, looks to expand its benefits and reach stores outside of its current jurisdiction. Finally, a proposal was made to work with local business, not-for-profits and cultural institutions to create a more accessible commerce hub. Through this work, the GJDC hopes to “create programs and policies to incentivize, attract and increase quality dining and entertainment options,” making Jamaica a more visitor-friendly and attractive place for New Yorkers abroad as well as international travelers.
Jamaica is no stranger to capital investments. Since the once-troubled, now-booming neighborhood was called the soon-to-be “hottest neighborhood” in New York City by real estate website StreetEasy, developers have begun to act on Jamaica’s newfound popularity. Known as one of the more vibrant neighborhoods in Queens, Downtown Jamaica boasts both cultural diversity and a primary location with proximity to both the E train and John F. Kennedy Airport. Jamaica elected officials have embraced this change with open arms.
“Jamaica is one of the crown jewels of New York City, and this funding will further realize our collective vision for future growth,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica). “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 will continue this upward trend and help transform our economy to attract well-paying jobs and new business to our downtown center.”