During the 55th anniversary celebration of its commitment and service to the community, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) on Thursday, May 5, announced the upcoming opening of its new state-of-the-art office space, Greater Nexus.
Southeast Queens elected officials and civic leaders joined members of GJDC at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave., to deliver remarks regarding projects in the community. Andrew Kimball, president and CEO of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, delivered the keynote address.
Years before COVID was a daily part of life, GJDC had already begun thinking about how to help small businesses find flexibility in modern office space, according to Lamont Bailey, Esq., chair of the GJDC board of directors.
“We know this project will bring additional innovation and entrepreneurship in the downtown Jamaica area,” Bailey said. “This is all in addition to affordable housing, creating spaces and other capital projects that GJDC has initiated to improve the quality of life and other opportunities, none of which would’ve been possible with the support of our local elected officials.”
In June, GJDC will celebrate the opening of Greater Nexus, located at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., which will include over 10,000 square feet of office space.
The Greater Nexus includes affordable and flexible membership options. Members will have the choice of working at a designated cubicle or a floating desk in an open area. The training facility, located on the fourth floor, will be used to host events, educational programming/seminars, and networking or mentoring opportunities. The space will also be available to the community.
Amenities include two kitchen pantries, a podcast room, wellness room, soundproof phone booths, meeting rooms, conference rooms, an open work area, lockers and state-of-the-art technology.
Currently, the project is about 80% to 85% complete, according to Justin Rodgers, interim president and CEO of GJDC.
In March of 2020, as GJDC was about to commence construction on the coworking space, the project was fully funded but then the permits were pulled, Rodgers said. When COVID-19 hit New York City, plans for the coworking space were tossed.
In the fall of 2020, according to Rodgers, GDJC reviewed the project and redesigned the space adding additional offices and smaller offices that were deemed suitable for one person or two people.
“We said people don’t want to be in open areas because of the pandemic,” Rodgers said.
As the cost of construction materials was increasing at such a rapid pace, Rodgers said they took another look at repricing the project, which came out to be $1 million more. As a result, Rodgers said they decided to close the gap by funding the project using federal and market tax credits.
In his keynote address, Kimball congratulated GDJC on its vision for a new coworking space in the community.
“Today’s entrepreneurs, makers and innovators want to start in really small spaces. They want to start near each other and be part of ecosystems,” Kimball said. “EDC was excited to be a partner through our new market tax credit program. We have been excited to be a part of Greater Jamaica on so many projects throughout the years — from the Greater Jamaica Now Action Plan, Archer Green, Atlantic Avenue Extension and Gateway Park.”
Kimball also teased a future project that will be announced at a later date on the largest privately financed commercial development that will be built in Jamaica.
As southeast Queens is emerging from the pandemic, Councilwoman Selvena Brooks Powers noted the importance of supporting small businesses in the community.
“We have made great progress in keeping our neighbors safe and healthy. But our local economy has suffered as I saw firsthand many commercial storefronts are still shuttered in downtown Jamaica,” Brooks-Powers said. “Our small businesses are the key to the city’s economic recovery and they need our support. When we invest in our local businesses, it has a multiplying effect — those investments keep wages circulating throughout our neighborhoods.”
Councilwoman Nantasha Williams reiterated that there is much more work to be done.
“I believe in partnership and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is always willing to be a partner. I look forward to continuing the work and I want to make sure that I’m planted here and that we are being solution-oriented,” Williams said.
After leading a multi-agency tour of the area last month, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said that moving Jamaica forward starts with safety first, as he is working with NYPD Commanding Officer Ruben Beltran of Patrol Borough Queens South and the NYPD Commissioner.
The borough president also announced the creation of a local task force to ensure the community receives the investment that it rightfully deserves, the return of Bartlett Dairy from New Jersey to Jamaica bringing 165 jobs, capital projects at York College, and investing in millions in South Jamaica Houses.
“We are not going to leave anyone behind in this community,” Richards said.