By Sadef Ali Kully
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen announced Wednesday the launch of the Jamaica Now Action Plan to revitalize downtown Jamaica into a epicenter of tourism, transit, dining, and shopping area for all visitors.
The event took place at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.
In total, the neighborhood is home to more than 150,000 residents and provides transportation services to more than 330,000 daily commuters, according to the city.
“Everyone here has long recognized Jamaica’s inherent potential for smart growth,” said Katz. “So we shored up that will and now we finally have a way. The city cannot be clearer about our strong commitment to revitalize Jamaica’s downtown core and make it even more attractive to investors, even more livable for existing residents and businesses. It’s a focused commitment backed up by real city resources.”
The 21 strategic actions, 16 of which will be launched and implemented over the next three years, will have be financed by $153 million in current public funds.
“The Jamaica Now Action Plan is the blueprint we have developed hand in hand with the community to dedicate energy and investment on all fronts to realize Jamaica’s tremendous potential,” Glen said.
In addition to the items outlined in the Action Plan, Katz and the de Blasio administration announced an agreement on a marketing and branding program specifically for Jamaica that includes wi-fi kiosks, a new program to draw attention to Jamaica’s cultural institutions, improvements for the southern lawn of King Park in Jamaica and Brinkerhoff Mall Park in St. Albans.
“The commitment shown by Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Katz to Jamaica’s future is very exciting to those of us who have worked for years to restore the area to its central role in the economic and community life in Queens and beyond,” said Greater Jamaica Development Corporation President Carlisle Towery, who will retire after 40 years of service later this year.
The 21-point Action Plan highlights include: $250,000 secured by the mayor’s office for Jamaica Avenue street improvements, entrepreneurship programs, enhanced public safety and an alliance with culture groups.
“The implementation of the Jamaica Now Action Plan will create the growth and revitalization that this community has needed and deserved for so long,” said Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams.
The Jamaica Now plan also covers the redevelopment of 168th Street Garage for a mixed-income housing, retail and community center and new affordable homeownership and rentals.
In conjunction with other city investments, it will also support approximately 3,000 new housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 800 hotel rooms in Jamaica through economic opportunities, cultural amenities and infrastructure, according to the city.
“Jamaica continues to grow, and under this plan, will improve while staying true to the character of the neighborhood,” said state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis).
The plan includes new initiatives around foreclosure prevention and workforce training for community residents.
Katz also announced that positions are open on the Jamaica Now Action Plan Leadership Council for community leaders who can take on the accountability role.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull