By Patrick Donachie
Jamaica’s opportunities in business and transit are vast, according to a presentation made by the New York director of the Regional Plan Association to the directors and members of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.
Business leaders and representatives for elected officials attended the program at the Harvest Room in Jamaica Market at 90-40 160th St. May 18 to learn more about the RPA’s history and mission. The organization began as a collection of business leaders in the tri-state metropolitan area in 1922 to create “regional plans” that would chart the long-term future for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The RPA has produced three such plans in its history, with a fourth scheduled for release in 2017. RPA New York Director Pierina Ana Sanchez was on hand at the meeting to detail Jamaica’s projected role in that plan.
“Since the 1960s, when we proposed there would be a lot more growth in Jamaica, we actually haven’t seen that growth, that promise,” she said. Sanchez cautioned, however, that many disagreed with the premise that Jamaica had not capitalized on opportunities.
Sanchez said the RPA conducted a market study in collaboration with Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and found several areas of untapped opportunity. Since office rents were lower in Jamaica compared to other areas, she said businesses might consider utilizing the second floors of office spaces along main streets like Jamaica Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard as co-working spaces for people who do not work out of an office.
“The economy is changing,” she said. “Folks don’t have the same 9-to-5 jobs they may have had a generation ago.”
In the market study, the RPA also proposed finding ways to better use space on the grounds of John F. Kennedy International Airport by moving cargo transportation businesses onto the airport property. Sanchez noted that the RPA had not yet completed its research of the area but wanted to present a snapshot of the organization’s progress.
“This is a midpoint report, our research is far from complete,” she said. “But we wanted to bring it to you to ask are we going in the right direction? Are we asking the right questions?”
In addition, Sanchez detailed the RPA’s analysis of transportation options in downtown Jamaica. Initial proposals included making all fares on LIRR trips within New York City the same price as an LIRR “City Ticket”, which is currently only available on weekends and costs $4.25, and a transformation of the LIRR’s Atlantic Avenue branch into a new subway line.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona