Tag Archives: Downtown Jamaica

City accepting proposals to develop NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Even more development is coming to Jamaica—this time on the site of a police department parking garage.

Not long after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to focus on creating more housing with his State of the City address, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officially announced a request for proposals to develop hundreds of market rate and affordable units out of an NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica.

The 59,500-square-foot site at 93rd Avenue and 169th Street could also include ground-floor retail, according to the EDC, which set an April 30 deadline for developers to submit plans for the lot. Of course the project is consistent with de Blasio’s goal to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units in 10 years.

The two-story garage is currently used by cops, and will have to be entirely demolished to construct the new project, according to the EDC. But it’s a price the city is willing to pay for more housing.

“The 168th Street garage site holds powerful potential to serve the Jamaica neighborhood with affordable housing and other amenities, while building upon the area’s strengths as a commercial, cultural and transit hub,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball.

Police vehicles will have to be “accommodated” in order to redevelop the site, the EDC said.

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

The development could create 400 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs, the EDC said, and would add another project to the dizzying amount of construction coming to Jamaica near the downtown spurred by under-utilized lots, cheap land prices, high traffic and access to a massive transportation hub.

This includes Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) giving its twin parking lots near 90th Avenue and 168th Street to Blumenfeld Development Group for a jumbo mixed-use residential and commercial project, with more than 265,000 square feet of space.

The GJDC is also working on a $225 million, 29-story residential and commercial tower across from the AirTrain and LIRR station on Sutphin Boulevard.

Not far away on Sutphin Boulevard, Able Management Group is constructing a 210-key hotel, and nearby York College has 3.5 acres of on-campus land that could be home to new companies that want to move into the area to partner with the institution through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY tax-break program.

TCX Development’s seven-story luxury rental building on Hillside Avenue is nearing completion, and some major properties have also hit the market or were recently sold, including a $22 million sale of a huge garage and commercial strip at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. There are already plans to develop the property into a housing and retail mix, according to a published report.

Also, the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, which was formerly a Macy’s department store, also hit the market for an astounding $45 million.

And finally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced that it is accepting plans from developers for 17 vacant city-owned sites in Jamaica to create more affordable housing.

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Jamaica Colosseum Mall selling for $45M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jamaica Colosseum Mall

In another big sign that Jamaica is changing, the more than three-decade-old Jamaica Colosseum Mall known for its hip-hop clothing stores and huge jewelry exchange is being marketed for sale.

The mall, which was a Macy’s until 1978, has been listed by Epic Commercial Realty for $45 million.

The site at 89-02 165th St. has nearly 50,000 square feet of space and up to 250,000 square feet of buildable potential for a commercial or residential development, New York YIMBY reported.

The mall could be sold for about $180 per buildable square foot at its current asking price, which would be significantly higher than many other listing sites in the neighborhood.

But as some experts have noted, now is the time for owners to cash in on Jamaica while the market is hot.

A few blocks over from the mall at 168th Street, developers are also working on an $85 million retail and residential complex.

Jamaica Colosseum Mall was founded in 1984 and began with an indoor flea market, according to its website.

Jamaica Colosseum mall 2

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Five Jamaica small businesses to receive $95K city grant to upgrade facades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It’s well noted that there are many major projects that indicate Jamaica will be one of the next thriving Queens areas for development and business, but local advocacy groups don’t want to look past small merchants already doing business downtown.

For that reason, the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID) announced it will divide a $95,000 grant from the city’s Small Business Services department (SBS) among five businesses on the boulevard for projects that revitalize storefronts.

The Sutphin BID was one of 80 citywide organizations to apply for a grant from SBS, and only one of seven to win. It was also the only Queens group to receive funding.

By helping small businesses upgrade their facades, the BID hopes it will improve the look of the neighborhood and subsequently increase economic activity by attracting shoppers.

“Jamaica has been going through a metamorphosis for years and often people focus on the big, majestic projects, but if you look around here, the heart and soul of Jamaica is the mom-and-pop stores,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “If we can help those small businesses improve their appearance, we can increase traffic to Jamaica, making it more of a destination for people from outside this area.”

The idea to apply for the grant from SBS began after a 2013 consumer survey, which pointed out the need to upgrade the look of businesses, according to Simone Price, executive director of the BID.

Sutphin Sign

“Many of the businesses on Sutphin Boulevard are unappealing, lack consistency in character or quality of signage, awnings and window displays,” Price said. “This pilot program will demonstrate the significance of financial investment as it relates to the positive experience when visiting the area.”

The grant will cover 80 percent of construction costs for the five businesses for projects that include revitalizing signage, lighting, windows and other parts of storefronts.

The initiative will roll out in three phases. In phase one, which will run from January through March, the BID will collect applicants and select the businesses.

During phase two, which is expected to be from April through June, the businesses will sign contracts for their projects and designs will be selected. The BID will also begin marketing the initiative and construction will begin. The final phase will finish in December with the completion of the projects’ construction.

Elizabeth Pilarte, who owns Party Moments, a store dedicated to selling party supplies, plans to apply for part of the money to get improved lighting and upgrade her storefront.

“This will definitely bring more customers and make our business stay here and grow in Jamaica,” she said.

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Jamaica parking lots will become $85M affordable housing and retail complex


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Developers of a plan to transform two parallel open-air parking lots in Jamaica into a massive retail center will also add a housing component to the mix, The Courier has learned.

The project, which has been expanded since an initial announcement in 2013, is a joint effort between the owner of the parking lots near 168th Street and 90th Avenue, the nonprofit Greater Jamaica Development Corp. (GJDC), and Blumenfeld Development Group (BDG).

The GJDC will transfer the lots to Blumenfeld, which will construct a 265,000-square-foot retail center, an affordable housing residential building and a parking garage with about 550 spots to replace the lost parking in the deal. Blumenfeld will return the garage to the not-for-profit agency after completion of the project, according to representatives of the developer. The project is estimated to cost $85 million at this point.

“The reason why this is a good thing is because there is no space in downtown Jamaica that can accommodate a big-box retailer,” GJDC Executive Vice President Andrew Manshel said. “It’ll certainly bring more people to the downtown and increase foot traffic, so that’s good for everybody.”

The retail center will be built on one parking lot, which sits between Merrick Boulevard and 168th Street.

The second parking lot, between 168th Street and 169th Street, will have a retail component to complement the shopping center across the street as well as the residential building and the parking garage.

Blumenfeld has already spoken to a number of big-box retailers to be the anchor tenant of the project, representatives said, including BJ’s, Costco and Burlington Coat Factory.

“The number of people living and working in downtown Jamaica combine to create significant demand and buying power that exceeds the current retail supply by $3.7 billion,” said David Blumenfeld, vice president of the development firm. “We expect our efforts to help attract a combination of retailers that can tap into the unmet demand, creating additional jobs, investment and tax revenue.”

The project needs to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) approval process, because the developer will not be able to build the massive parking garage under current zoning regulations. They are aiming to get approval by 2016.

Since the project is still in the planning phases, representatives could not immediately say how big the residential building will be and how much of it would be moderate- and low-income housing. The decision to add affordable housing was brought about in part because of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious push to create more housing, representatives said.

“We also believe that the project can make an impact beyond the provision of new retail opportunities,” Blumenfeld said. “We share the administration’s belief that the addition of affordable housing brings an added benefit to the community, and we are enthusiastic about assisting the city [in making] additional strides toward meeting its housing goals.”

The plan to transform Jamaica parking lots into major development projects has become a popular one recently, as it has been throughout the city.

Last year, representatives from the New York City Economic Development Corp. announced plans for a request for proposals to develop a 45,000-square-foot parking garage on 168th Street between Jamaica and Archer avenues.

Also, in October an investor bought a huge parking garage and commercial strip at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave., and plans to develop the property into a housing and retail mix, according to a published report.

 

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Man of the Year: Carlisle Towery


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.

Many people say Jamaica wouldn’t be the up-and-coming community it is today without Carlisle Towery.

Over the course of four decades, Towery has watched over Jamaica as the head of the not-for-profit Greater Jamaica Development Corp. (GJDC) and guided its regrowth as an emerging neighborhood.

He witnessed the initial economic decline throughout Jamaica as department stores and anchor stores shut their doors and left for brighter pastures in malls across Long Island and elsewhere as his organization planted the seeds of the future by working to attract various public and private projects to the neighborhood.

In the process he formed important business relationships, which helped to eventually bring back retailers and investors. Now developers around the city have been eyeing Jamaica as the next frontier for opportunity, and massive projects that will spur economic growth are already planned.

After setting the table for Jamaica’s revival, Towery plans to watch the completion of his work from the outside. He recently announced his retirement from the position where he has spent half of his life.

For his many accomplishments that have helped to improve the Jamaica community from all angles, The Courier has selected Towery as its Man of the Year.

“His most extraordinary contributions to Jamaica have been unparalleled in terms of his achievement, persistence, and creating an environment for business to grow,” said Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Courier. “He has focused his life’s work on all aspects of the Jamaica community, and has made it better for his having been there.”

Towery, born and raised in Alabama, received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Auburn University and then moved to New York City to study urban planning at Columbia University in 1961 after earning a full scholarship.

He later went on to use his planning skills, including an assignment as chief urban designer of the Regional Plan Association, a Manhattan-based organization that focuses on improving urban growth across the New York metropolitan region.

Carlisle

While at the RPA he began working on a plan to transform Jamaica and repair the business community it started to lose. He presented the plan to the members of a chamber of commerce that represented Jamaica and impressed its board members.

At the time, the organization was working on establishing a not-for-profit, which would later become the GJDC, to bring economic growth back to a neighborhood that had suffered mightily from the urban decay of the early 1970s. The GJDC was formed and its new leaders picked Towery to be its first president in 1971.

“He is very bright and knowledgeable, conscientious, an excellent speaker and an expert planner,” said Vincent Albanese, a founder of the GJDC and current board member. “We were very impressed with his background, his expertise, and we were fortunate that [the RPA was] prepared to make him available to us.”

When Towery took the role of president of the GJDC he knew that he would be presented with a major challenge in the coming years.

Jamaica was heading into an era he later called the “disinvestment decade,” as downtown Jamaica’s anchoring department store giants, Macy’s, Gertz and Mays were all about to leave the area.

Towery fought to keep the stores, which he knew were the lifeblood of the community, but they all ended up exiting, starting with Macy’s in 1978. And as the bigger retailers left, so did smaller ones. Some banks and The Long Island Daily Press also closed around this time.

Jamaica had gone quickly from one of the city’s major commercial centers — a hub for Long Island shoppers who arrived at the Long Island Rail Road station — to a shell of its former self.

Its row of movie theaters, including the once-majestic Loews Valencia, shut their doors. The Valencia would later be resurrected and renovated as a church.

Towery oversaw city, state and federal partnerships over the next four decades that resulted in a revitalization of the neighborhood into one of the borough’s hottest development areas.

From 1978 to 1996, private investment in Jamaica totaled just $17 million, compared with the $364 million that has been invested in the last three years, according to the GJDC.

“He has had tremendous accomplishments,” Albanese said. “Jamaica was not growing, not serving the best interest of the business or residential communities. There was a tremendous need for a person of his caliber.”

Towery credits a number of strong public initiatives in Jamaica in the past few decades that led to the rebuilding of the downtown. He persistently advocated what he calls “pre-developments” through seven mayors and eight governors, dating back to John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller, and the federal government to attract more private investment.

This includes removing the Jamaica Avenue El and extending the subway to Parsons Boulevard, which started the creation of the transportation hub in the downtown area, and moving York College into the neighborhood instead of alternative sites.

Towery says York College’s move to Jamaica was the greatest development for the neighborhood while he was head of the GJDC because of the jobs it creates and the college’s ability to interact with the community in many ways.

“We worked our tails off to get York College here,” he said in a recent interview.

Today the college, part of the City University, is the only site in the borough selected to be part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY initiative, a much-heralded economic development initiative that will encourage businesses to partner with the school and move to Jamaica, either to a location on the campus or in the surrounding area, in exchange for wide-ranging tax breaks.

York College is now in negotiations with many businesses looking to partner with the school in exchange for being exempt from corporate, sales or property taxes for 10 years. The new businesses would move to a property near the school or build on a portion of 3.5 acres of vacant, government-owned land on campus. The college is slowly becoming the hub for business, opportunity and community that Towery envisioned it could.

York College - Campus and students.

The GJDC also supported building the new regional Jamaica headquarters for the U.S. Social Security Administration and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are two federal agencies that brought jobs into the neighborhood.

The not-for-profit also advocated for the construction of the AirTrain rail line from John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2003, which further expanded Jamaica’s transportation hub to new heights.

That transportation hub, which is now comprised of various subway lines, an LIRR station, numerous bus lines and the AirTrain, has become a magnet for development.

After a 368-block rezoning was completed in downtown Jamaica in 2007 near the transit hub to allow more developments with commercial and residential uses, more and more developers have been planning large-scale projects there.

Some local initiatives and projects that have helped shape Jamaica were original ideas the GJDC started under Towery’s leadership, such as the creation of the first business improvement district in the downtown area to focus on the growth of local stores and companies and the first green market in New York City.

“Carlisle has been extremely successful in attracting government resources to the downtown, and has been a leader in urban revitalization and ahead of lots of other people with ideas of how to make things go better in downtowns,” said Andrew Manshel, the GJDC’s executive vice president. “He has integrated arts and culture in economic development way before that got to be a standard practice.”

In 2014, the GJDC was proud to announce the development of a $225 million mixed-use, 29-story residential and commercial tower at the building it owns on 93-01 Sutphin Blvd. just north of the LIRR and AirTrain station. The project led numerous community leaders and politicians to proclaim the return of Jamaica, because it followed the 2013 announcement of a 210-room, 24-story hotel on the south side of the LIRR complex at 93-43 Sutphin Blvd., a plot of land that is partly owned by the GJDC.

Jamaica also saw some sales last year that showed developers were highly interested in purchasing land in the area and building commercial centers or residential properties. A 90,000-square-foot building and parking garage at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave., which has 719,736 square feet of buildable space, was sold for $22 million in October. Additionally, a development site at 147-07 to 147-37 94th Ave., which has 420,000 buildable square feet, was listed for $24 million.

Going forward, Towery believes that Jamaica is in need of more housing developments, since most of the GJDC’s projects and partnerships have been unrelated to housing. New housing in the area should be 50 percent market rate, 30 percent moderate income and 20 percent low income for Jamaica, he said in a published interview.

Towery also said in that interview that his replacement should be a visionary who should pursue productive partnerships.

Towery plans to retire with his wife to their home in Maine. But because he’ll always be interested in what Jamaica will become in the future, he hopes to keep a close eye on the neighborhood as it completes its transformation.

 

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Large downtown Jamaica development site listing for $24M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CPEX   

A huge development site a block away from the downtown Jamaica transportation hub is selling for $24 million.

The 35,000-square-foot site, which comprises a few lots from 147-07 to 147-37 on 94th Avenue, allows up to 420,000 buildable square feet, according to real estate firm CPEX, which is marketing the site.

World Wide Food Products, a longtime seafood company, has been at the property since 1975, according to DNAinfo.

Downtown Jamaica has been the talk of much major development recently. Last year, officials announced construction of a 210-room, 24-story hotel nearby the LIRR and AirTrain station at 93-43 Sutphin Blvd.

Earlier this year, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a nonprofit that has been working to transform the neighborhood, announced the development of a $225 mixed-use, 29-story residential and commercial tower on the site it owns at 93-01 Sutphin Blvd.

In October, a 90,000-square-foot building and parking garage at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. traded hands for $22 million. It has 719,736 square feet of buildable space.

Also, nearby York College, which is located across from the building and parking garage, hopes to help usher in development and new businesses as a START-UP NY site, and is offering new businesses about 3.5 acres of land on-campus.

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GJDC president reflects on Jamaica’s transformation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photos

When F. Carlisle Towery first took the helm as president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) in 1971, he knew a major challenge was coming.

The area was heading into the “disinvestment decade,” and downtown Jamaica’s anchoring department store giants were fleeing the area.

Towery and the GJDC fought to keep the chains, but Macy’s departed in 1978 after its lease expired to build a bigger store in a mall. Gertz exited the area in 1981 after its lease expired and Mays, which owned its building, closed its doors a few years later as well.

“We had some real serious economic trauma, because those are anchors and when they leave, lots of small stores follow,” Towery said. “Back then downtowns were going out of style and everyone was moving to malls. I’ve often said Jamaica was mall-ed.”

Now, Jamaica has transformed into one of the most attractive options for developers in New York. The downtown is buzzing with private development — and Towery is finally retiring after 43 years.

F. Carlisle Towery

F. Carlisle Towery

“I’m very comfortable and pleased,” Towery said. “It’s a great thing to look back at all these partnerships and gratitude. And more importantly I’m not leaving where I’ve got nostalgia to consume. I’m looking forward as the table is set.”

From 1978 to 1996, private investment in Jamaica totaled just $17 million. Compare that with the $364 million that has been invested in the last three years, and it’s clear how just far the neighborhood has come since 1971.

Back then, not only the stores, but also The Long Island Daily Press closed, and two banks headquartered in the area also moved to Long Island, Towery said.

Towery credits a number of strong public initiatives in Jamaica in the past few decades with leading to the rebuilding of the downtown.

Over the years, the GJDC persistently advocated what he calls “pre-developments” through seven mayors and eight governors, dating back to John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller, and the federal government to attract more private investment.

This includes removing the Jamaica Avenue El and extending the subway to Parsons Boulevard, which created the transportation hub of the current downtown, and moving York College into the neighborhood instead of alternative sites.

The GJDC supported building the new regional headquarters for the U.S. Social Security Administration and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, two federal entities that brought jobs into Jamaica, and creating the business improvement districts in the downtown to focus on the growth of local stores and companies.

The nonprofit also advocated for the AirTrain from John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2003, which further expanded Jamaica’s transportation hub.

Towery believes that what Jamaica is missing is more housing developments, as the GJDC worked for decades to make the area more attractive through non-housing initiates.

And because of the rapid growth of the AirTrain, which had 4.3 million riders from Jamaica last year compared to 1.1 million a decade ago, he said Jamaica should build more hotels, too.

That’s where he expects developers to focus with new projects, and he plans to “stay tuned” to the future.

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Real estate roundup: Flushing Commons construction woes, Costco eyeing downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

Flushing Commons Construction Causes Traffic, Pedestrian Pains

Flushing Commons will eventually bring open space, housing and retail to downtown Flushing, but right now, construction is creating a problem for pedestrians and drivers alike.” Read more [CBS]

Costco Eyes Location in Downtown Jamaica, Developers Say

“Costco, one of the largest wholesalers in the country, is actively investigating opening a store in Downtown Jamaica, according to those approached by reps for the mega-chain. Costco representatives recently spoke to at least two developers who own property in the area, the developers confirmed.” Read more [DNAinfo]

New restaurants continue to open in Ditmars– with two more opening recently

“New restaurants continue to pop up in Ditmars. Grano’s, an Italian restaurant located at 38-01 Ditmars Blvd, began its soft opening last week and will be celebrating its official grand opening in about three weeks, according to manager Jason Day.” Read more [Astoria Post]

Cricket Wireless moving into downtown Jamaica retail space


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark

Prepaid mobile service provider Cricket Wireless is moving into a 1,000-square-foot retail unit in downtown Jamaica, according to Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, which marketed the space.

The company will establish its new branch in the building at 166-34 Jamaica Ave. between Merrick Boulevard and 168th Street, which is currently occupied by a McDonald’s and Pay-O-Matic.

Cricket Wireless, which became a subsidiary of AT&T after the cell service giant bought Leap Wireless for nearly $1.2 billion earlier this year, now has more than a dozen authorized locations around the New York metropolitan area, including a number of branches in Queens.

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New $32M housing complex opens in downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of The Bluestone Organization

A 101-apartment complex has officially opened in downtown Jamaica.

Developer The Bluestone Organization and representatives from various city agencies held a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the nine-story twin Norman Towers at 90-14 161st St.

The $32.2 million buildings consist of seven studios, 72 one-bedroom units and 21 two-bedroom units. There is also one two-bedroom apartment for a superintendent.

New office space in the towers will serve as Bluestone’s headquarters, and there are 51 parking spaces for tenants.

There is an additional 5,773 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and 4,063 square feet of retail space in the towers as well.

“Downtown Jamaica is back and on its way up,” said Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “We welcome Norman Towers, a model development — mixed-income affordable housing, a new restaurant in a beautifully designed building. Norman Towers will utilize Jamaica’s attributes and bring new jobs. It will contribute to livability here.”

Norman_Towers

Twenty percent of the building caters to low-income residents. Three apartments are for tenants earning up to 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) or no more than $33,200 annually for a family of four. Seventeen apartments serve households earning up to 50 percent AMI, or no more than $41,500 annually for a family of four.

The buildings feature a cogeneration system that uses a natural gas-fueled engine to generate electricity. There are also roof gardens and every apartment has Energy Star appliances and lighting.

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Real estate roundup: 3 hotels planned for Jamaica, housing problems in Flushing  


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal 

Developer Plans 3 Hotels, Apartment Building and Supermarket in Jamaica

“A Flushing-based developer who recently plunked down $22 million in cash to buy the largest property in Downtown Jamaica, is planning to build three Marriott-brand hotels in the area, he said.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Family Blames Home Collapse on Nearby Sinkhole

“A Queens family thinks a nearby sinkhole on the street is the reason a giant hole opened up under their home, forcing them out. But they say the city has been no help in getting the sinkhole fixed.” Read more [NBC]

New report by Assemblyman Ron Kim shows the majority of people who come into his Flushing district office need help with housing

“The freshman state legislator issued his first-ever “District Trends Report,” analyzing 17,687 visits to his Flushing office from constituents since he took office in Jan. 2013.” Read more [New York Daily News]

The Beast Next Door to open late November

“The Beast Next Door, a neighborhood café and bar located at 42-51 27th Street, is set to open in about a month. It will be a café by day and a full bar by night, according to owner John Veenema.” Read more [LIC Post]

 

 

 

Real estate roundup: Eight-story residential tower planned for downtown Jamaica, Queens eyed for juvenile offenders facilities


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark 

Eight stories in downtown Jamaica

“Applications have been filed to begin construction of an eight-story and 31-unit residential building of 22,728 square feet at the vacant lots of 87-65 – 87-69 171st Street, in Downtown Jamaica; the site’s two-story predecessor was demolished in 2003, and M. S. Savani is designing.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

Two Queens neighborhoods being eyed for ‘limited secure’ facilities for juvenile offenders

“The city is searching for sites in Queens to place a “limited secure” facility for juvenile offenders, the News has learned. Sources said locations in South Ozone Park and Jamaica are being studied.” Read more [New York Daily News]

Checking in on Tishman Speyer’s Long Island City project

“28-18 Jackson Avenue, which is part of Tishman Speyer’s plan to bring approximately 1,600 residential apartments to Long Island City, is completely covered in pipe scaffolding now.Construction crews put the pipe scaffolding up with in the last two weeks, and a permit filed on September 11 calls for the full mechanical demolition of the building.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

 

Landmarked 116-year-old Jamaica Savings Bank building set for transformation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

A real estate firm investing in downtown Jamaica has plans to renovate and modify one of the area’s landmarked buildings.

The new owners of the 116-year-old Jamaica Savings Bank building at 161-02 Jamaica Ave. in the heart of the neighborhood’s downtown area has filed with the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission to modify the building.

The structure, a Beaux-Arts-style bank building designed by architecture firm Hough & Duell and built in 1898, was designated a landmark in 2008.

According to city records, the application seeks to “construct rear and side additions, replace doors, install awnings and infill window openings.”

The building was bought by the investment firm of the Laboz family, United American Land LLC, under the name 161-02 Jamaica LLC for $3.7 million, according to records filed with the city in January. Jason Laboz of the firm declined to speak with The Courier about the project.

The modification of the building could be part of a plan to add new retail tenants into the property as the company has planned with the adjacent buildings on the strip.

United American Land purchased the 10-story building next door at 160-16 Jamaica Ave. in January for $8.5 million. It filed permits to reduce the larger building down to four stories, matching the landmarked structure and the property at 160-08 Jamaica Ave., which the company owns as well.

The 160-08 Jamaica Ave. structure is still under construction for new retail tenants, according to plans posted on United American Land’s website.

The firm bought that building in 2012 for $14 million, according to city records, and an H&M was thought to be a potential anchor for that property, according to published reports.

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Real estate roundup: The Crossing in downtown Jamaica revealed, friends return to Sandy damaged house


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of BRP Companies

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard Revealed

“BRP Companies have released renderings of their 25- and 14-story mixed-use development project at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard, in Downtown Jamaica. Dubbed The Crossing, the complex will contain 580 residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail space.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

After 50 years in business, Frankie’s Pizzeria has closed

“The operators of Frankie’s Pizza, which is located at 22-56 31st Street, left a note in the window that read: Dear Costumers! Thank you for your loyalty and support after 50 years of business– Frankie’s Pizza is closing!” Read more [Astoria Post]

Organic Coffee Shop with Vegetarian Menu Opens in Forest Hills

“A new coffee shop featuring organic and vegetarian menu opened this week in Forest Hills, a neighborhood that has been primarily served by coffee shop chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Rockaway Park Friends Return To Homes Damaged In Superstorm Sandy

“Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.” Read more [CBS]

Massive downtown Jamaica development site sells for $22 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark 

Downtown Jamaica’s development boom is expected by many sometime in the future, but one recent sale suggests developers may be springing into action already.

The nearly 90,000-square-foot building and parking garage site at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. in the heart of the downtown area traded hands for $22 million, according to property records filed Tuesday.

Gertz Plaza sold the site to Jamaica Tower, which has yet to file any building or demolition plans on the site, but it has tons of development potential, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services.

“This sale signifies the return of the residential development market in downtown Jamaica,” said Massey Knakal’s Brian Sarath, who handled the transaction. “It is the largest site to trade since the downturn and will be a catalyst for the Jamaica development market moving forward.”

The site currently has a one-story building with an accompanying seven-story parking garage. The building, which has 10 units, currently only uses 32,471 square feet of the site and some units are vacant, while the garage is 280,000 square feet.

It is a developer’s dream with 719,736 square feet of buildable space near a gigantic transportation hub of subways, LIRR, the AirTrain and dozens of buses.

“We received numerous bids in a short period of time from developers that were priced out of other areas in the city and see tremendous value in the downtown Jamaica market,” Sarath said.

Photo courtesy Massey Knakal

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal

Advocates and public officials have been trying to lure developers and business to Jamaica in recent years with incentives such as a 368-block rezoning of the downtown area and using York College as a tax-free haven for moving companies and start-ups.

York College, which is located across from the site, also hopes to help usher in development and new businesses as a START-UP NY site, and is offering new businesses about 3.5 acres of land on-campus.

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