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Major Investment Projects Transforming Downtown Jamaica, Queens

A rendering of the mixed-use project at 90-02 168th St. Credit: BRP Companies and Wharton Properties. A rendering of the mixed-use project at 90-02 168th St. Credit: BRP Companies and Wharton Properties.

NEW YORK CITY—The long-struggling Jamaica section of Queens is on the cusp of a major transformation with a host of significant multifamily projects under construction and in the pipeline.

The latest development to move forward is a project on 168th Street. The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. announced earlier this week that it approved the sale of 90-02 168th St. to a joint venture of BRP Companies and Wharton Properties to build a nearly 500,000-square-foot development that will include more than 300 mixed-income residential units as well as 70,000 square feet of retail space.

“Our goal for the development of the site is to facilitate a project that addresses the needs of the community, creates jobs and brings activity to the eastern part of the district,” says Hope Knight, president and CEO of GJDC. “We are confident that BRP and Wharton will create a project that will support the growing population and volume of daily shoppers that is at an all-time high.”

Knight, in an interview with Globest.com, says the BRP-Wharton development, which should break ground in the second half of 2018, will likely involve more than $300 million in investment.

”Jamaica is primed to be a premier hub in Queens- combining housing, retail and transportation- and we are pleased to support its continued development with our second Jamaica project,” says Meredith Marshall, BRP Companies co-founder and managing partner. “We are working closely with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, helping to bring needed mixed income, affordable housing to the area. This project will strengthen our relationship and ensure we are developing in Jamaica based on the needs of the community.”

BRP’s other project in Jamaica is located across from the AirTrain Station at 93-01 Sutphin Blvd. The $407-million project called “The Crossing at Jamaica Station” is the largest private development in Jamaica in decades—a 773,000-square-foot mixed-use project that will feature 669 mixed-income, affordable housing units. The project was awarded by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., which is selling the property to BRP. The development is expected to create nearly 4,000 construction jobs and should be completed sometime in 2019.

Another significant project in Jamaica is a New York City Economic Development Corp. venture also on 168th Street. In late January, the EDC designated Omni NY to develop a 450,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 92-33 168th St. that when completed in 2019 will include 350 affordable-housing units. The project will also include a substantial community facility, ground-floor retail/commercial space and below-grade parking with space allocated for NYPD use. That development is projected to create between 250 to 300 permanent jobs and 300 to 350 construction jobs. Construction on that project is expected to begin soon.

GJDC’s Knight notes that a third major project the agency has awarded in the last 18 months is another site on Sutphin Blvd. and 94th Avenue that will be developed into a Hilton Garden Inn by Able Management. She said that demolition has begun and construction of the approximately 225-room hotel is expected to begin shortly.

She adds that there is a Courtyard Fairfield Inn under construction on Archer Avenue and a more than 300-unit multifamily residential project on 94th Avenue that is being built by Artimus, which is also in development at the moment. Another significant venture is a four-story, 150,000-square-foot retail complex in the heart of Jamaica Avenue  being built by Urban American Lands.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has nurtured nearly $1 billion of private and public-sector investment over the past decade to create more than 5.1 million square feet of new residential, hotel and retail space. This includes more than 3,000 mixed-income and market-rate apartments; more than 1,900 hotel rooms in various stages of development; and a four-story, 150,000-SF retail complex in the heart of Jamaica Avenue currently under construction.

Last August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Downtown Jamaica was awarded $10 million to fund improvements to help revitalize the district, part the governor’s $100-million annual program to revitalize 10 downtowns statewide. Knight notes that those state funds will likely be spent on commercial-related projects including the possible creation of co-working space to attract small businesses to the downtown district. The state funding will augment the “Jamaica Now” plan being implemented by the city and the Queens Borough President’s office.

Knight says that the investments by private sector, New York City, the governor’s downtown funding program and the GJDC are helping to bring to Jamaica “to a place where we can attract major retail, a diverse group of individuals and families who may want to live n the community, as well as a burgeoning hospitality hub due to its proximity to the (JFK) airport.”


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