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Owner to develop Jamaica site

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A faltering economy may have killed plans to create new commercial space at the old Merkel Meat plant on Sutphin Boulevard last month, but the area is far from being abandoned, the site's developer told TimesLedger last week.

During Community Board 12's monthly meeting on Sept. 17, Carlisle Towery, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. president, said developer Washington Square Partners is in the early stages of coming up with a plan to create a new use space at Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue.

"The developer has a long-term lease on the property and is looking to make a space that includes office, retail, housing and parking," Towery said.

Raphaela Dunne, who is overseeing the development of the lot for Washington Square, confirmed that the Manhattan-based company is in talks involving a project and said more will be revealed in a few weeks.

"We remain committed to the property and Jamaica," she said.

She declined to provide any specifics about the talks.

Washington Square originally partnered with South Korean-based Prime Construction to build a $260 million, 13-story electronic wholesale mart. The mart would have taken advantage of the new zoning designations placed on the downtown Jamaica area by the city in 2007 and its proximity to the AirTrain station.

The demolition of the meat mart was completed in January, but the development was canceled in August because Prime could not acquire the financing to finish the job, according to Towery.

The Greater Jamaica president was on hand at CB 12's meeting as part of a quarterly series of appearances by his group designed to give residents updates on area projects. Towery assured the board members that developers were still interested in improving the downtown area even though the economy is in a downturn.

"Since 1981, the Jamaica area has been on an upturn. We have worked hard to bring it back," he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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