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F. Carlisle Towery retires after leading Jamaica revitalization

F. Carlisle Towery, who oversaw the economic revitalization of Jamaica as the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for more than 40 years, announced his retirement Monday.

Towery, a trained architect and urban planner, was appointed to the position in 1971 by local business leaders after Jamaica was singled out as a neighborhood of importance due to its extensive transportation hub. At that time, economic decline had blighted much of the area.

Since then, Towery has worked with seven mayors and eight governors, dating back to John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller, to improve the neighborhood’s economy.

During his tenure, the Jamaica Avenue El was replaced by an underground subway, the AirTrain service was introduced, the Jamaica Arts Center was created and downtown Jamaica underwent enormous revitalization – to name just a few of his achievements.

From 1978 to 1996, private investment in Jamaica totaled just $17 million, compared with the $364 million that has been invested in the last three years,  according to a statement released by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.

Numerous apartment complexes, hotels and mixed-income housing projects are currently under construction in the neighborhood.

A search is now underway for Towery’s replacement.

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