Greater Jamaica plans for parking

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Jamaica First Parking, the non-profit parking arm of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, broke ground Monday on a three-story garage designed to ease the shortage of affordable parking in downtown Jamaica.

The 406-spot garage, which stretches from 162nd Street to 163rd Street between Jamaica and 89th avenues, is the second phase of a residential, retail and parking complex known as the Midblock Village. A seven-story apartment building, dubbed Yorkside Towers, has already been built across 162nd Street and tenants were expected to begin moving in this July, said Christine Ciampa, of the Ciampa Organization, which built the building and will manage it.

"This is all transforming an older but no longer distressed downtown into a vibrant commercial center," said Tazewell Smith, chairman of Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

The garage will accommodate 406 cars, with entrances on 162nd and 163rd streets, and have 5,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, said Lamont Bailey, vice chairman of Greater Jamaica.

The garage will be built by Jeffrey M. Brown Associates and was expected to be completed within a year, Jeffrey Brown said. Jamaica First Parking will manage the garage.

"This is the first new garage in a growing parking network," Bailey said. "Greater Jamaica developed Jamaica First Parking three years ago to establish safe, affordable parking for downtown Jamaica."

Once the garage is finished, Jamaica First Parking will have about 2,000 spots to its name in the downtown area, Bailey said.

Greater Jamaica formed the non-profit parking entity to develop inexpensive lots to help attract consumers and visitors, said Carlisle Towery, president of Greater Jamaica.

"We're not in the parking business because we thought it would be a good business," he said. "We thought it would be an appropriate business to support economic development."

That sentiment was shared by people who have spent time searching for a place to park.

"As one who frequently shops in the downtown area, as one who parked on this very site to commute to Wall Street, I know affordable and safe parking is critical to the success of this area," said Elliot Hobbs, of JP Morgan Chase, one of the banks that helped finance the garage.

Borough President Helen Marshall praised Greater Jamaica for including a parking garage in its plans for the housing and retail project. She and Councilmen James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and David Weprin (D-Hollis) lent a hand in the groundbreaking Monday.

"Usually we build buildings and then comes the parking," she said. "This garage will be an asset to the residents of nearby Yorkside Towers."

The Towers, at 90-05 161st St., is a seven-story apartment building with about 13 units on each floor, Ciampa said. It is the first market-rate housing to be constructed in Jamaica in three decades, with studios starting at $875, one bedrooms at $1,175 and two bedrooms at $1,400.

The spacious units feature parquet floors, new kitchen appliances and wood cabinetry, video intercoms and individual thermostats. The building is equipped with laundry facilities, two elevators and offsite parking.

Some apartments also have balconies, which will look onto a courtyard, Ciampa said.

A second apartment building was scheduled to be constructed on the other side of the courtyard on 162nd Street, she said. A start date has not been set for that project, she said.

Those interested in renting the apartments can fill out an application at the rental office in the building on weekends or call the Ciampa Organization at 718-939-4888.

For some in Jamaica, the housing and the garage will be a welcome addition.

"I've been in the Jamaica area for 43 years," said Gloria Black, chairwoman of Community Board 12. "I could see where this area saw some deterioration. I am very happy to be a part of this moment wherein I can see renovation, growth and even birth."

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

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