By Naeisha Rose
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that seven projects in Jamaica would receive a combined $10 million for his Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“The DRI has come a long way in recent years,” state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said. “It’s all thanks to the small business and civic leaders who have put forth this tremendous effort to realize their vision of what downtown Jamaica should be. Funding these projects will help us unlock the full potential of the downtown area. I look forward to continuing this work with local residents, my colleagues, and Gov. Cuomo, whom we thank for his leadership.”
State Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (Jamaica) shared his sentiments.
“Thanks to Gov. Cuomo for providing this wonderful opportunity to revitalize and invigorate Jamaica’s diverse downtown,” Cook said. “These projects will not only improve public spaces for everyone to enjoy and spur investment in the area, but also place a premium on preparing the local community for jobs through educational programs, as well as entrepreneurship and workforce training.”
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation will receive funding to create a shared workspace at the Moda Building, which is located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. The 10,000-square-foot space will be affordable for freelancers and entrepreneurs of startups and provide them with business equipment to do their jobs. It will accommodate up to 90 people at a time, according to the governor’s office.
The second project involves bringing high-speed broadband to the downtown Jamaica area to support the delivery of high-speed service to existing businesses and the public.
The third development will expand pedestrian space, lighting and streetscape at Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues. The fund will initially expand pedestrian sidewalks so that the area becomes a venue for public programming down the road, according to the statement from Cuomo’s office.
Dining options in the area will be improved to add to the nightlife activity downtown. Through a Restaurant Startup Fund, Jamaica Market, a food court located at 90-04 160th St., will establish space to set up an incubator that offers services for new food businesses. Up-and-coming restaurateurs will get restaurant space and funding for equipment to lower their startup costs. Food operators at the court will also get to expand their business.
The fifth program is entrepreneurship training through the Expand Prime Skills agenda, which will provide low-income residents support to launch or grow a business. The graduates of the program will receive mentorship and funds for equipment towards their business ideas.
Thomas Edison High School, located at 165-65 84th Ave., will have a career prep program. The school will receive funds for equipment and software to maintain its technical curriculum and ensure that graduates are job-ready for employment in tech, design and the health sectors, which are growing industries in the area.
The last project will include the development at the LIRR underpass at 159th Street, the key pedestrian gateway between York College and the downtown area, which will be converted into public space. Improvements to what will be called the Archer Archways include overhead lighting, public art, seating and an event space. Vendors will be able to temporarily set up stalls for commercial use, according to Cuomo’s office.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose