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Korean wholesalers eye Jamaica site

Such a move would be facilitated by a looming rezoning for downtown Jamaica, a long-awaited move that would allow larger buildings to be put up and will likely come within the next 12 months, a spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning said.The wholesalers group, the International Merchandise Mart, is looking at several potential sites for a collection of showrooms, said project spokeswoman Lorinda Karoff of K. Backus and Associates. Karoff declined to name the other areas being considered. She stressed that contrary to a Newsday report last week, a final decision had not yet been made on the Jamaica site, located at Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration pulled the plug in October on the International Merchandise Mart's effort to develop the Flushing Airport with the help of the city's Economic Development Corp., at which point the agency starting helping the group look for other sites.While neighborhood concerns about traffic ultimately helped scuttle the College Point plan, Carlisle Towery, president of the non-profit Greater Jamaica Development Corp., said the project would be welcomed with open arms and help solidify efforts to use the AirTrain station as a hub for the continued economic revitalization of the downtown area."We've been selling Jamaica as the best location for it," Towery said, noting that the initiative fit in well with a proposed hotel that would be erected nearby the AirTrain terminal. "It could catalyze a lot of things." Unlike at Flushing Airport, if the Jamaica site is chosen, the warehouses for the complex would have to be placed off-site, Karoff said.In order to build anything taller than a one- or two-story retail complex, the zoning in downtown Jamaica would have to be changed. The Planning Department spokeswoman said more than 400 acres are being considered if the area is developed. Any initiative would capitalize on the AirTrain and the proximity to Kennedy Airport, she said, but would preserve the low-density in surrounding neighborhoods.At a meeting scheduled for June 23 at Jamaica's York College, residents can tell Planning officials what to look at in their environmental analysis for the effort.]Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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