Companies tied to Jamaica development boom look to hire local contractors

Jamaica is in the midst of a development boom, and several developers and government agencies met on Friday with local contractors to show them how to get in on the ground floor.

The event, specifically for Minority, Women-owned and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (M/W/DBE) contractors, was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica.

The Bluestone Organization announced its partnership with the First Presbyterian Church regarding the construction of a 12-story, mixed-income rental building with 25,000 square feet of community facility space in the parking lot next to the house of worship. The church will receive space to hold programs.

According to Eric Bluestone, partner at The Bluestone Organization, the construction is slated to start in December 2016. Bluestone and the church organized this event to encourage local contractors to help develop their communities.

“This program was a discussion with [Pastor Patrick O’Connor] and myself about trying to develop a conduit of local [M/W/DBE] contractors and try to give them opportunities to get involved in the bidding process,” Bluestone said.

BRP Companies, a real estate firm that specializes in affordable, mixed-income and market-rate housing and commercial developments, is working on a 580-unit, mixed-use development at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard called The Crossing. Construction is expected to begin shortly after final plans are set in December 2015.

According to Meredith Marshall, managing partner and co-founder of BRP Companies, the apartments will be evenly distributed between low-income and market-rate housing. The firm is also in talks with restaurants, gourmet grocery stores and cafes for its 115,000 square feet of retail space.

“We’re told it’s one of the largest mixed-income private developments in southeast Queens in a long time,” Marshall said. “It addresses the ills of what we think was poorly managed affordable housing.”

Paul Sawyer, director of the New York City Minority Business Development Agency business center, offered business and consulting assistance to minority businesses. The agency also helps contractors submit bids for construction projects, sitting down with business owners to explain each step in the bid process.

Bomi Kim, senior vice president and director of the New York City Economic Development Corporation‘s (NYC EDC) Minority, Women-owned, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, explained how business owners can receive job opportunities and financial help through the agency. NYC EDC offers a contractor training and technical assistance program, a Money Matters Workshop, and loans through its Kick-Start Loan Program.

P.J. Singh, owner of JSA NYC Construction, which operates in all five boroughs and has done work in Jamaica and South Ozone Park, came to the event to become a certified minority-owned business through NYC EDC.

“We learned a lot of good things,” Singh said. “A gentleman taught us how to get certified and maybe EDC can help us and provide us with a loan.”

Singh also said he may look into becoming a contractor for one of the projects presented at the meeting.

Councilman I. Daneek Miller, who was one of the sponsors of the event, said he is committed to helping foster the growth of Jamaica and southeast Queens.

“I’m so glad to see so many faces in this room,” Miller said. “We’ve had this conversation for so many years and that conversation is becoming a reality. We will continue to have a voice in our community, in the designs, in any final outcome.”