Jamaica wins $10M of grant money to transform itself into a vibrant community

Jamaica $10M check
Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo/Flickr

The future of downtown Jamaica got a major boost from the state on Wednesday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with other elected officials, announced at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center on Aug. 17 that Jamaica was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) in New York City. The DRI was first introduced in Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State address as an effort to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities and generate new opportunities for long-term growth and prosperity.

“Downtown neighborhoods are the heartbeat of communities across the state and investing in their revitalization is key to generating growth statewide,” Cuomo said. “By capitalizing on Jamaica’s higher education institutions, cultural cornerstones and diversity, we are transforming it into a magnet for opportunity that will continue to attract private investment and generate economic activity for generations to come. This is the beginning of a new chapter in Jamaica’s economic success story and I look forward to seeing this vibrant core of Queens move forward.”

The $10 million awarded to Jamaica will include up to $300,000 in planning funds for private sector experts to work with a local planning committee to draft what is known as a strategic investment plan, which will identify specific economic development, transportation and housing projects across the neighborhood. Plans are expected to be completed by early 2017.

After years of neglect, downtown Jamaica is experiencing a wave of new private and public investments in areas such as infrastructure, housing, hospitality, retail and jobs. Jamaica has everything a bustling downtown area needs — including a major transportation hub, housing, businesses, cultural centers and a higher education facility (York College) — but the governor said it needs the “start-up capital” to reach its full potential.

The $10 million from the DRI will help build on existing public and private investments through a comprehensive strategy that will maximize community assets to allow Jamaica to become an affordable, livable and sustainable mixed-use community for residents, workers and visitors alike.

“Jamaica is one of the crown jewels of New York City and this funding will further realize our collective vision for future growth. Downtown Jamaica is in the middle of a renaissance and this neighborhood serves as a bustling center for business, transit and culture,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “The award funding, part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, will continue this upward trend and help transform our economy to attract well-paying jobs and new business to our downtown center. I commend Governor Cuomo for investing in the future of our community, city and region.”