Mayor Eric Adams and multiple city agencies on May 26 launched a new effort for a community-led planning process to create new jobs and housing and deliver streetscape improvements in Jamaica.
Overseen by the Department of City Planning (DCP), the ambitious community-driven “Jamaica Neighborhood Plan” will explore opportunities to promote job growth in the neighborhood; create new housing, especially permanently affordable housing and housing produced in partnership with faith-based institutions; and enhance resiliency, including by addressing flooding.
“Our administration and our elected and community partners are going to create family-sustaining jobs, affordable homes, and vibrant public spaces — and we are getting to work right away,” Adams said. “Jamaica is a major jobs and transportation hub for Queens and the entire city, but it has been overlooked for too long. We have been undertaking projects like this across the five boroughs, and this comprehensive plan for Jamaica will help deliver a fairer, more prosperous city.”
The plan is a product of robust public engagement, drawing on outreach to 1,500 members of the public and more than 600 public comments, according to the Mayor’s office. In partnership with Borough President Donovan Richards and Councilwoman Nantasha Williams, DCP will conduct extensive community outreach — including with multiple public workshops and open houses later this year — alongside a steering committee with community, business and faith leaders who will meet regularly. Engagement will continue with an open house at the end of the summer and public workshops in the fall.
“Today is a great day,” Williams said. “After calling on the city to initiate a community-driven conversation about imagining a future Downtown Jamaica, we are finally launching a community rezoning planning process that will ensure our neighborhoods are more resilient, revitalized, and vibrant than what it is today. This process can only be successful with the support of local stakeholders, especially our steering committee, our elected partners, including the mayor, the speaker and the Queens borough president. Together, we can truly create a greater Jamaica in our lifetime.”
Richards noted that Jamaica is already a key business district and a critical transit hub.
“But we haven’t even scratched the surface of this community’s potential,” Richards said. “I know this holistic, community-led initiative will make Jamaica the premiere live, work and play neighborhood in the city and I can’t wait to hear from our neighbors later this year about what they would like to see. Now is not the time for NIMBYism or economic stagnation. We must move with the urgency of now if we are to build our way out of our housing crisis. As a proud son of Jamaica, I look forward to working hand in hand with my government and community colleagues to make the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan as successful as possible.”
The study will focus on a more-than-300-block area that includes downtown Jamaica, adjacent transportation corridors and nearby manufacturing districts. The area includes institutions and community assets like York College, Rufus King Park and the Jamaica Rail Hub, which provides transit access to the rest of New York City and east to Long Island via the subway, Long Island Rail Road and AirTrain. The study area also covers key pedestrian and commercial corridors, including Jamaica Avenue, Merrick Boulevard, Hillside Avenue and Liberty Avenue.
“Our Jamaica is a thriving and vibrant community whose success is pivotal to the prosperity of southeast Queens and to our entire city,” Speaker Adrienne Adams said. “As a former co-chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council and a representative of southeast Queens, I remain committed to Jamaica’s growth and transformation to a bustling community with opportunities to advance careers, build homes and raise families. The Jamaica Neighborhood Plan continues a critical process to build on the progress we have made by facilitating the creation of more affordable housing, infrastructure and resiliency investments, and economic opportunities directly to southeast Queens.”
The city will conduct additional community engagement in the near term to help define the amenities and investments that will shape these new public spaces in the downtown core.
“Downtown Jamaica has always been a major cultural and financial hub for Queens. It also serves as one of the busiest transportation hubs in our city and is often the first stop many visitors make when flying into our city,” Councilman James Gennaro said. “These improvements put forth by DCP will emphasize everything that makes this neighborhood great, and I am proud to stand beside Speaker Adams and Mayor Adams in support of it.”
The Jamaica Neighborhood Plan builds on the mayor’s $375 million investment in public space as part of the Working People’s Agenda, which included a full reconstruction of Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to Merrick Boulevard.
“Jamaica has long been home to one of the city’s largest residential communities yet is well positioned to help alleviate New York’s affordable housing crisis by creating more opportunities to live here,” said Justin Rodgers, president and CEO, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “We are thrilled by the unwavering commitment of Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, Council member Nantasha Williams and Borough President Richards to return downtown Jamaica to prominence. With many mass transit options, including LIRR lines that connect to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn in 20 minutes, along with a vibrant retail corridor, our neighborhood is primed for continued growth that will be catalyzed by this tremendous public investment.”