RPA envisions a Greater Jamaica in 2040

The Regional Plan Association states that Jamaica has the potential to be a mecca for job growth in the city.
Courtesy of ORG Permanent Modernity
By Naeisha Rose

The Regional Plan Association, an urban research and advocacy organization that creates plans to help improve the prosperity of the tri-state area, included the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation as a major source for its idealized view of Downtown Jamaica’s economy 22 years into the future.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is an economic development group that dedicates itself to revitalizing the Downtown Jamaica area, and its plans for mixed-income affordable homes, reasonably priced hotels, a shopping district, better transportation and establishing the area as a global food hub was incorporated in the RPA’s 2040 vision for the region.

GJDC President Hope Knight was pleased that the RPA saw the economic development group’s $1 billion investment in Downtown Jamaica as a boon for the region.

“RPA’s recommendations dovetail with GJDC’s mission,” Knight said, “and provides validation from a highly respected organization that our economic development efforts with the public and private sectors are headed in the right direction.”

The RPA envisioned Jamaica with the potential to be an interconnected cultural and commercial mecca on par with Brooklyn and Manhattan, but with a more affordable and diverse local flair.

According to the RPA, the Jamaica of 2040 will have more of the same amenities of the other two boroughs, like theaters, art festivals, bike lanes, pedestrian greenways, and diverse mom and pop restaurants with food from around the world. It will also have a light industry (consumer production of small goods and products).

The research group saw a Jamaica that remained diverse, had affordable homes and low-cost hotels, and created jobs near an improved and linked subway, bus and airport system with help from GJDC.

GJDC’s plan to tie the expanded job growth with the expansion of John F. Kennedy International Airport was included with RPA’s development ideas for Jamaica.

RPA saw a future in which foot traffic at the expanded JFK doubled from 59 million in 2016 to 118 million, and the hotels being built by GJDC will become a major resource for job creation and economic sustainability.

Instead of Jamaica residents and international travelers spending their money in Manhattan, their disposable income could be retained in the Downtown region with shopping centers GJDC has built, according to the advocacy group.

Preserving JFK’s terminals and runways to make way for freight facilities if the Aqueduct Racetrack was redeveloped for small goods manufacturing and distribution was seen as another basis for revenue for the RPA and GJDC.

The RPA saw GJDC’s plans to create mixed-income apartments that were affordable as a great way of retaining Jamaica’s diverse immigrant population, especially to help establish an international food hub with these people as potential small-business owners.

In the RPA’s view, “regional downtowns in the tri-state area can be developed, thrive and provide good jobs and affordable communities with policies that promote mixed-use development near transit services, maintain neighborhood diversity and improve the overall quality of life with safe streets and green spaces.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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