Tag Archives: Jamaica Center BID

Jamaica residents, culture featured as ‘unsung greats’


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The development of downtown Jamaica is no longer limited to new buildings and facilities. A website dedicated to revealing community art and neighborhood loyalty is making a buzz.

Queens Royalty, the site launched earlier this year, came from “a desire to counteract some of the negative perception of downtown Jamaica,” said Felicia Tunnah, executive director at the Jamaica Center BID, the group that sponsored the project.

“The idea is to celebrate the history but also celebrate the people who are here now and who are doing great things,” she said.

The Jamaica-centric site features residents, the “unsung greats,” and their stories, as well as photos of both local celebrities and community members. It also focuses attention on iconic buildings throughout the neighborhood, such as the landmarked Jamaica High School.

“They are our neighbors and loved ones, who always push forward and reach back. They are our elders and youth, who have experienced history and beckon the future,” the website’s description says.

Brian Tate, creator and producer, wanted a heavy emphasis on the area’s youth.

“Sometimes, the young people are seen as a problem. So I wanted to start there,” he said. “The youth aren’t a problem. They’re the future.”

Queens Royalty commissioned four acclaimed photographers – Barron Claiborne, Delphine Diaw Diallo, Russell Frederick, and Jamel Shabazz – to capture a mix of local artists, entrepreneurs, students, and families.

Tate said he wanted to make these people “a part of the story, to shape what the story is and how that story is told.”

“I think there’s a lot of love among the people in Jamaica,” he said. “It’s just having a vehicle for them to express that. It’s promoting a place from the inside out.”

To make the vision a reality, Tate and the BID partnered with Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, NYC Small Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation, Borough President Helen Marshall, the 165th Street Mall and Sutphin Boulevard BID.

Tunnah said the website is “a place for people to share their own stories and really just to continue the dialogue and celebrate what’s happening here.”

Visit www.queensroyalty.org to discover more and submit a story of your own.

 

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New developments on their way to downtown Jamaica


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of GJDC

Development organizations are hoping to give downtown Jamaica a face-lift by bringing an entirely new mix of stores and restaurants to cater to the needs of large businesses and residents alike.

The Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID), Jamaica Center BID, 165th Street MIA and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) have been working for years to attract business owners and ultimately revamp the area.

“There’s so much to offer in downtown Jamaica, and we just feel like people are really unaware,” said Simone Price, executive director of Sutphin BID.

To get their mission across, the groups organized an event called Jamaica Revealed. They invited dozens of area property owners and commercial real estate brokers to connect with prospective business operators.

The attendees took a trolley tour of the downtown area and were able to view vacant commercial spaces.

“This is a major investment and a major transformation of the area,” said GJDC President Carlisle Towery.

GJDC is focusing on three sites throughout the development area. There is a location at the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue that will become a 200-room hotel; a site on Parsons Boulevard that is hoped to be turned into a 200-seat sit-down restaurant; and a housing, retail and office space, according to representative Justin Rogers.

“Things are really happening in downtown Jamaica,” he said. “Development has been cleared to take off.”

Price said the groups hope to attract sit-down restaurants, office supply stores, artisanal food stores, furniture retailers and upscale shops to the area.

Sara Herbstman owns a site on 161st Street that will soon be transformed into two residential towers.

“With all of the support that is being talked about, the development will be successful,” she said. “Jamaica is a major transportation hub, and it’s underutilized. It has all the potential to be successful.”

 

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