Downtown Jamaica rises

Greater Jamaica board member Isa Abdur-Rahman (l.) listens as Executive Vice President Andrew Manshel discusses plans for new development. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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One of the most strategic and underdeveloped corners in downtown Jamaica is set to undergo a massive overhaul, with plans in the works to build 400 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space at one of the city’s busiest transportation hubs.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. is set to make an announcement Friday detailing the 22-story, mixed-use tower the nonprofit and its partner will build on the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue across from the Long Island Rail Road station, the JFK AirTrain terminal and the Parsons-Archer subway station.

“The developer is going to have amenities at least of what [the nearby building] Moda has,” Justin Rodgers, GJDC’s head of real estate and economic development, said at the group’s quarterly meeting last week. as he compared. Moda, the Dermot Co.’s 346-unit, market-rate development, opened several blocks away in 2010 and includes two open-air decks, valet service, a gym and a lounge.

“So that means it’s going to at least have a fitness center,” he added. “It’s going to be a 22-story building, so it’s going to have a roof deck. They’re talking to several major grocery stores.”

The site is in an area eligible for the city’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health program, offering developers up to 20,000 feet in additional development rights and tax incentives in exchange for bringing grocery stores into underserved areas.

The project, which Greater Jamaica calls Site 6, is in an area of the downtown characterized at the street level by a traffic-choked intersection and a hodgepodge of low-rent retail properties that promises to be unrecognizable in a few years.

Site 6 sits at the nexus of transportation lines that carry more than 200,000 passengers each day, and as the city was putting the final touches on its plan to rezone the neighborhood in 2007 in order to promote transit-oriented development, Greater Jamaica began assembling nearly a dozen properties stretching about 600 feet east from Sutphin Boulevard along Archer Avenue.

Meanwhile, the city put plans in place to ease congestion to widen Archer Avenue and create public plazas where a handful of two- and three-story buildings now stand across the street. A project to extend Atlantic Avenue and create a traffic loop on the south side of the railroad tracks will also help mitigate gridlock.

Greater Jamaica released a request for proposals to develop the site in June 2012, and since that time the non-profit has announced several major development projects for the neighborhood, including a 160,000-square-foot retail center toward the eastern side of downtown and a 26-story hotel to be erected on the southern side of the LIRR station.

At the meeting last week, officials said Duane Reade, which currently has a lease at the corner through 2018 and the option to renew until 2023, will probably relocate during construction to the retail spaces beneath the railroad tracks that have struggled to attract tenants since they were opened by Greater Jamaica in 2012.

The developer is the BRP Development Corp., which is almost finished with construction on Macedonia A.M.E. Church’s affordable housing building in downtown Flushing.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:22 pm, March 6, 2014
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Reader feedback

anon from queens says:
How much more retail does Jamaica really need? If this goes through then all of those small shops have to close down.... there's already a whole lot of stores in Jamaica. What Jamaica really needs to a quality super market If anything because those super markets over there are really nasty...It's like they serve second hand food!
March 6, 2014, 6:04 am
anon from queens says:
Excuse me sell second hand food*
March 6, 2014, 6:04 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
This is heading in the right direction, ONLY, if the retail is upscale and not the low-rent crap that plagues Jamaica Avenue and most of Sutphin. Maybe this time they will get it right, because they have not so far.

But the bottom line, and this is most important, UNLESS you can attract quality people who have respect for a community and will support these types of businesses, to move into the area, things in Jamaica will not change. The problem in Jamaica is a huge amount of low-class people who care nothing about the community, have no respect for the community, think of it as one big dumping ground for their garbage and think that high class eating is standing in line at McDonalds or buying a sandwich as some dirty disgusting deli or going to Kennedy's Fried Chicken. No that anything is wrong with having fast food places, but you also need that balanced out with quality places, which Jamaica has very few. Jamaica seems to cater to the low-class denominator in the community, forgetting that there are many middle class people of quality that actually live here.

The individual above is right as well, when stating that a quality supermarket, which as of now, we really do not have in the community, except for the small market near Moda Apartments.

Time to get away from the low-class ghetto and third world mentality if we are going to move forward in the future.
March 6, 2014, 6:38 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Just found out that crooked Congressman Gregory Meek's name is attached to this.

If Meeks name is attached to it, there must be poison in the well. The dishonorable Meeks was involved in those empty store fronts across from the Sutphin Train station, where millions was pumped into that several years ago for upscale retail, which to this day sit empty. His name was attached to the $50 million dollar retail project a while back for the corner parking lot at 168th/90th, that never materialized. Now this.

I did have hope when I first read this, but with Meeks name somehow attached to it, you can count on some scandal —— to happen.
March 6, 2014, 12:48 pm

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