BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
In an effort to attract restaurant owners to the Downtown Jamaica area, the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District and the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District hosted their second “Jamaica Revealed” program for brokers and property owners.
The program, held at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning on Dec. 3, focused on highlighting Jamaica as a bustling new hotspot with a need and demand for sit-down restaurants and other eateries.
“I’ve been here all my life and I can tell you this is a wonderful place to bring your business,” said guest speaker Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica).“You should know that this community is made up of middle-class, hardworking people and in this community, there is a lot of disposable income and a lot of this disposable income is going everywhere else because they can’t find the kind of restaurants [and] the kind of eateries that they would like to have.”
Justin Rodgers of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation supported Scarborough’s claims, citing the numerous developments coming to the area that the group believes will net in thousands more pedestrians, visitors and locals.
Rodgers highlighted three major projects that GJDC has been working on this year – a new department store on 168th Street, a 210-room hotel and a new mixed housing unit on 161st Street, which is expected to construct 100 affordable homes for families and individuals.
Other guest speakers included Kina Thomas of the New York City Business Acceleration Team and Paul Libreros of New York Business Solutions, both of which spoke about the free services their respective organizations provide for business owners looking to invest.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who recently was announced as Deputy Borough President come Jan. 1, was also on hand to discuss the growing potential of Downtown Jamaica as a destination area.
“There are plenty of young people in the Jamaica area that are looking for quality restaurants and nightlife to come into the Downtown Jamaica area,” Comrie said. “I would encourage you to come [because] the area is doing well. It is starting to build a regular audience.”
“Jamaica will definitely embrace you because there is opportunity. People don’t want to have to go to Manhattan and take three trains and two buses to enjoy nightlife,” Comrie added. “They are doing it, but they rather do it with one bus or one stop in one location.”
As part of their strategy to revitalize Downtown Jamaica, the Jamaica BID, GJDC and the Sutphin Boulevard BID also highlighted their research. The groups, which conducted a 1,200-person survey of area shoppers earlier this year, determined there was a large demand for sit-down restaurants in the area.
“We got responses from several hundreds of people here – not just residents but people who visit here including students and transit workers, and we found out that based on their perceptions, we are only capturing about 20 percent of business,” analyst Mark Lohbauer said. “We found that 46 percent of the people who do not shop regularly in Jamaica do not dine here because there are just not enough dining options.”
“More than a third of the people that live here do not dine here because there are not enough options,” he added. “They would love to but there aren’t enough options.”
Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @nkozikowska.