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Jamaica biz group to study homes, retail near AirTrain

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The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. and its subsidiary, the Jamaica Capital Corp., are hoping to use a combination of housing, retail, office and hotel developments to create JFK Corporate Square, an off-airport site for air industry support services, said John Markunas, director of development for the project.

"We're trying to impress upon everybody that the AirTrain certainly is part of airport," he said of the Port Authority-run rail system. "We refer to the area as Terminal 10 in hopes that we will soon be able to check our bags here in Jamaica."

The AirTrain linking downtown Jamaica to Kennedy Airport opened in December. The train connects passengers from the airport to Long Island Rail Road, subway and bus lines in Jamaica. The Jamaica station is at Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue.

The plans for JFK Corporate Square include a residential, retail and parking component as Phase 1, Markunas said. Greater Jamaica and the Jamaica Capital Corp., the board that oversees the JFK Corporate Square project, have commissioned a consulting study that will help define the size and scope of the Phase 1 work, he said. The study is due in about a month, he said.

In the meantime, developers have expressed interest in the project, Markunas said. Jamaica's location and status as a transportation hub make it ideal for residential and commercial development, he said.

"There are 3.6 million people within an hour of Jamaica who can get to Jamaica by public transportation," Markunas said. "We have a college-educated labor pool of almost 1 million people within 45 minutes of Jamaica."

Markunas is also working to instill the concept of JFK Corporate Square as a brand, he said. Aside from simply promoting the name, he and Greater Jamaica are using southeast Queens' rich history of jazz music to create a cultural experience, Markunas said. They are working with the Port Authority to create an exhibit inside the AirTrain terminal, he said.

"We want to make it a destination for that as a jazz-themed area," he said. "We want to play off all of the jazz musicians who lived or played in Queens. We hope that design will lend itself to a sense of place."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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