Jamaica, Queens: More Than Just a Stop on the Way to the Airport
C.J. Hughes reports that a combination of commercial, government, and non-profit groups are developing the area that many New Yorkers and tourists only know as the JFK-AirTrain route. The area lacks the vibrant commercial and residential atmosphere often found in other NYC neighborhoods with such a plethora of transportation options. "Scarred by poverty, crime and blighted conditions, that transit hub in Jamaica, Queens, has generally been more of a place to contemplate from train platforms than to stroll through on the ground."
Real estate developers plan to capitalize on its proximity to the airport and accessibility to Manhattan. Several major projects are underway, centered around the intersection of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Bouelevard, including a mix of affordable housing units, hotels, and a 100,000-square-foot retail center. The city is also paying attention to the neighborhood: the Jamaica Now Action Plan, a partnership among the city and various public and private stakeholders, has proposed a $153 million budget to attract residents, consumers, and jobs to the area.
Supporters maintain that local residents can rest assured that the investments will not lead to gentrification trends found in other NYC neighborhoods, where low-income residents are often displaced or priced out. Many of the lots being redeveloped are abandoned storefronts and parking lots. According to the Jamaica Now group:
"The strategic actions proposed in the Plan are the product of a nine-month community engagement process and incorporate recommendations from more than 30 meetings and two public conferences with Jamaica residents, businesses, community leaders, and elected officials."
Furthermore, the state has designated 132 acres of the area as brownfields, providing incentives for developers to clean up polluted soil.