"The revitalization of downtown Jamaica is one of my priorities," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "That is why I am delighted that this former courthouse will be brought back to life with mixed income housing, retail space and community uses, including a potential library. The entire project will continue to enhance the attractiveness of Jamaica as a great place to live, work and shop."Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., said, "We are delighted to have another private development of mixed income housing at this prominent location in the heart of downtown Jamaica. With York College, cultural facilities, new shopping, exceptional transportation and easy access to jobs, this growing downtown is an excellent place to live." The Economic Development Corp. said Dermot Co. Inc. would develop the two-acre site, at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., constructing nearly 400 mixed income residential units, 18,500 square feet of retail space, parking for 190 cars and 25,000 square feet of space for community and cultural uses.The start of construction was expected to be many months away, however, as the $130 million project must pass approval by a variety of agencies and boards, including the Queens Borough Board, Borough President Marshall, the City Council and the Mayor Michael Bloomberg.Dermot said the project would create more than 750 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs.The property includes not only the four-story Queens Family Courthouse but also a three-story annex. The developer said the annex would be demolished but that workers would restore the Italian Renaissance style faade of the former courthouse and carry out restoration of parts of the interior of the building.The residential part of the project will include low-income, middle-income and market rate apartments as well some affordable co-op units, a health club, a clubhouse and outdoor terrace.The building was built in 1928 as the Parsons Public Library, but the library lent it to the city for use as a family court when it moved to its present Merrick Boulevard location in the mid 1970s.The building last underwent renovation in 1966.The library never reclaimed the property, saying it could not afford to restore it at the same time it was proceeding with its already planned capital projects in Queens library branches.The building has been vacant since Queens Family Court moved to Jamaica Avenue in 2003.Andrew Alper, president of the Economic Development Corp., said, "This development project includes all the components we were looking for at this site. It has the right mix of residential, retail and parking to meet the needs of the neighborhood and it will encourage more private investments in Jamaica."Alper said it was a good example of the mayor's "commitment to breathe new life into neighborhoods of all five boroughs."It was another positive development in the steady comeback of Jamaica from a decline that began after World War II as malls and shopping centers attracted shoppers away from the downtown area, which lost the retail anchors Gertz and Macy's.Part of the revitalization, led by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., has been the establishment of the 11-story U.S. Social Security Administration offices, York College, the Jamaica Center subway station and the Jamaica Business Improvement District, which has made Jamaica Avenue an important destination for thousands of shoppers from both in and outside the city.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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