BY TRONE DOWD
The rapid development of Downtown Jamaica continues to roll on as the neighborhood is expected to see the opening of three new eating establishments and three retail clothing stores.
At last month’s Community Board 12 meeting, the board announced that a Chipotle, Dallas BBQ, Starbucks, H&M, TJ Maxx and Burlington Department Store would all be debuting in Southeast Queens’ commercial area.
“Right now, Downtown Jamaica is having a renaissance,” Glenn Greenidge, the economic development chairman of CB 12, told the Queens Tribune. “It’s going back to what it used to be in the 1970s, which was a major retail district for both big-box and smaller boutique-type shops.”
The locations will be scattered throughout the neighborhood. The H&M, TJ Maxx and Burlington will take up an entire block, opening at 160-08, 160-16 and 161-02 Jamaica Ave. Chipotle will be located nearby, setting up shop on 160th Street and Jamaica Avenue.
The Dallas BBQ will be located on Parsons Boulevard and 89th Avenue, where the former Moda Grill and City Rib were previously located. The restaurant will feature sidewalk seating and parking that is shared with the Moda Apartment Building garage.
Lastly, a Starbucks will be coming to the area, although a location has yet to be finalized. The new chain store would make it the third in the Downtown Jamaica area. In April 2016, the first one opened on Sutphin Boulevard. A second store, located at 159-27 Jamaica Ave., debuted in March 2017. The stores have drawn large crowds since they opened in the neighborhood.
The rapid development of Jamaica has been closely following Borough President Melinda Katz’s Jamaica Now plan. According to Greenidge, the plan has already helped to bring $100 million in development to the area. Last August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo allocated $10 million towards Jamaica. In April, a mixed-use apartment building that would house a number of retailers as well as homes officially broke ground.
When asked about retailers’ sudden interest in Jamaica, Greenidge pointed to other parts of the city that have seen similar growth in recent years.
“This is the next horizon,” he said. “You look at Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City all being revitalized. They are going further east into the outer boroughs.”
He said that the community board has tried to revitalize the downtown area without displacing residents who live nearby.
“We’ve gotta make sure that locals who have been here for 20 or 30 years don’t get displaced by development companies,” Greenidge said.
He explained that this is a reason why development is being contained within Southeast Queens’ commercial strips and out of Jamaica’s more residential areas.
Citing the Long Island Rail Road station on Sutphin Boulevard, E and J train lines, Parsons Boulevard bus hub and 165th Street bus terminal, Greenidge said that the neighborhood’s multiple transportation options will help draw city residents to the upcoming developments.
“Overall, I think we’re bringing Downtown Jamaica back to what it was,” Greenidge said. “The only thing that’s missing is some white- cloth restaurants and some entertainment.”