Downtown Jamaica development is under way with the official announcement of a Four Points Sheraton hotel headed to the area.
After the economic downturn of a few years ago, development and investment interest is at long last picking back up, said Laurel Brown, executive director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District (BID).
“There is a lot of untapped potential down here. We’re seeing people latch onto that,” she said. “Having Sheraton invest in Jamaica just underscores exactly what we’re saying.”
The 150-room hotel is expected to go up on 94th Avenue near 147th Street, one block away from JFK International Airport’s AirTrain and the Long Island Railroad transportation hub. Groundbreaking is projected for later this year or early 2014, according to Andrew Levenbaum, P.E., the architect for the project.
Community leaders hope that the addition of a well-known name such as Sheraton will bring fliers as well as a more diverse crowd to the area.
Simone Price, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, said it also had the potential to elevate interest for other businesses to plant roots in Jamaica.
“People always want to see someone else come into the district first,” she said. The Sheraton “will be a great launching pad.”
Price added the hotel will give southeast Queens its first meeting and event space as well as job opportunities.
The BIDs and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) are still in talks with various businesses in hopes of getting them to lease space in the area, Brown said.
CityRib, a new Manhattan-based barbecue eatery, is slated to open in the neighborhood as well. Brown said the high-end restaurant will give residents and visitors a different option in a community dominated by fast-food chains.