Downtown Jamaica street clock restored, grant program for small business pandemic recovery announced

JBID with Senator Comrie and ESOTA
The downtown Jamaica business community celebrates the restoration of its historic street clock. (Photo courtesy of GJDC)

It’s about time.

The downtown Jamaica business community celebrated the completed restoration of the historic, century-old Jamaica Street clock on the corner of Union Hall Street and Jamaica Avenue.

The iconic timepiece, which was erected in 1900 and hadn’t worked for many years, was removed from its longstanding spot in early June and transported to Massachusetts where the Electric Time Company restored the antique street clock.

Craftsmen repaired the rust base, post and dented head; restored the double-face to a style closer to the original when it was first installed; and inserted new electronic mechanisms to propel the hands. The clock will now be able to reset itself for daylight savings time without regular servicing.

“The clock hasn’t worked for many years. The face was grimy and covered with stickers and the door to the mechanical section was held together with duct tape,” Jennifer Furioli of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District said. “I hadn’t been in my seat as director of the BID more than a couple of weeks before I started receiving regular inquiries about the clock and whether our organization could do something about it.”

The BID worked with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) to manage the restoration project which was Self-Winding Clock Company, a major manufacturer of electromechanical clocks founded in 1886 that closed its doors in the 1970s.

“While it took a village to restore this piece of Jamaica and American history, we are here today due to the tenacity of the late Thomas Crater, who was the most vocal and well-known advocate for our neighborhood,” GJDC Interim President and CEO Justin Rodgers said. “Tom felt this clock was symbolic of the area. If no one cares to fix the clock, no one cares to fix Jamaica. All the people involved with the restoration proves that Jamaica is in the hands of caring stewards and stakeholders.”

Jamaica Avenue, east from 161st Street, and the street clock in 1915 (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Center BID)

Meanwhile, GJDC announced it has launched the Entrepreneurs of Color Bounce Back Grant Program, created for businesses located in southern Queens that represent the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community. The qualifications to receive an award have been tailored to businesses that have had trouble accessing financial support from previous COVID-19 pandemic-related funding.

“It is going to take years for businesses in Jamaica and southern Queens to fully recover from the effects of the pandemic, and it’s great to have this additional program as we continue to support local entrepreneurs be successful,” Rodgers said. “I look forward to seeing the grants put to good use and would like to thank all of the organizations who made this opportunity possible.”

Business owners have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $2,500 that can be used toward reopening their businesses, covering much of their needs including supply and payroll. This opportunity was made possible by Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, with additional support from JFKIAT, ConEd and Verizon.

“Many entrepreneurs and small business owners have been struggling due to the pandemic and Wells Fargo through our Open for Business Fund, has been partnering with organizations such as the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for the purpose of providing much-needed relief,” Wells Fargo New York Community Relations VP Catherine Domenech said. “We hope these grants will help with some of the expenses needed to keep the business up and running during these tough times.”

The grant program will be open for as long as funds are available, and business owners can visit the application form to learn how to apply here.

“It is JFKIAT’s ongoing commitment to support the local community through our 4GOOD program and initiatives like the Entrepreneurs of Color Bounce Back Grant,” JFKIAT President and CEO Roel Huinink said. “In order for local establishments to rebuild and thrive, they need access to resources that will enable growth, especially following the impacts of the pandemic.”