Tag Archives: 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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City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.

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Man flashes ‘Islam’ tattoo at store clerk during Jamaica robbery


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A robber with an “Islam” tattoo on his chest allegedly used his religion to try to convince a Jamaica store clerk to not call the cops, according to published reports.

“We are both Muslim. We are supposed to support each other,” the suspect said to the clerk during the Dec. 4 holdup at 111 Wireless and More at 111-02 Merrick Blvd., reports said.

The suspect entered the store about 6:35 p.m., took out a gun and demanded money from the worker, police said. The clerk then handed over $780, but the suspect reportedly wanted more cash and phones.

When the clerk said he didn’t have the goods, the suspect said as Muslims they were “supposed to support each other,” reports said.

Surveillance photos released by police show the suspect displaying his “Islam” tattoo to show the employee he is a Muslim.

“Please don’t call the police and report me,” he then said before shaking hands with the clerk.

Police describe the suspect as 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 220 lbs. He has dark braids and was wearing a black beret, green jacket, camouflage pants and black sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.

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City renews express bus service plans between Jamaica and Flushing after nod from mayor


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

With the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city is moving ahead with plans to develop an express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica.

Despite calls from community members and politicians in neighborhoods like Kew Gardens Hills, the transformation of the Q44 and Q25 into a Select Bus Service (SBS) line is set to begin as early as this fall, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman, but no official schedule has been announced. The transformed Q44 would continue along its path on Main Street. Residents in Kew Gardens Hills are worried that an express bus through their neighborhood would increase traffic or reduce parking along the route.

The city claims that an express bus line would help thousands of commuters going between the two neighborhoods every hour and allow people in areas without trains to quickly travel to Flushing for the 7 train. And in his State of the City Address, the mayor also pushed for express buses.

“[Bus Rapid Transit] will cut transit time on existing routes by 15 to 25 percent. That means New Yorkers spending less time in transit and more time living their lives,” he said.

Public transportation advocacy groups lauded de Blasio’s support for express buses, which are sometimes referred to as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“Bus Rapid Transit could transform New York City by providing faster, more reliable bus service for residents in the outer boroughs who need it most,” the group Riders Alliance said.

And elected officials representing Flushing and Jamaica have also expressed their support for the plans.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two rapidly growing economic centers that require a transportation system and infrastructure to serve its increasing population and activity,” the officials wrote in a letter to the city. The letter was signed by Queens representatives, including state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Councilman Peter Koo and Congresswoman Grace Meng.

But people who live between these two transportation hubs claim that their needs are being sacrificed and made their thoughts clear to city officials during a recent workshop held in Townsend Harris High School. Those in the middle tend to rely on cars instead of bus service, making parking and open lanes a priority for them.

New York City has several express lines that aim to cut down commutes by devoting a lane exclusively to SBS lines. But creating an exclusive bus lane means there is one less lane for regular traffic, a point that is a deal-breaker for Councilman Rory Lancman, who represents Kew Gardens Hills and other areas.

“All they’re doing is shifting the burden of heavy traffic from one group of people to another,” Lancman said. “And I can’t support anything like that.”

Officials from the transportation department haven’t responded to questions to see if the city will still install a dedicated bus lane that would run through Kew Gardens Hills.

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Queens man pleads guilty in city’s first murder of 2011


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Gavel 2

Four years ago a New Year’s Eve party in South Richmond Hill that started as a celebration ended up deadly for one man after he tried to break up a fight and escort a woman to her car.

On Tuesday, Carie Dixon, 30, of Jamaica, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of that man, Dwayne Haughton, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Haughton, then a 29-year-old Jamaica resident, had just left a New Year’s Eve bash at a South Richmond Hill banquet hall on Jan. 1, 2011, when a group of women, including Dixon’s current and former girlfriends, got into an argument, according to Brown.

When the other women started to pelt the ex-girlfriend with snowballs, Haughton intervened and offered to escort her to her car.

As they walked toward the vehicle, another man then approached them, punched the woman in the face, and both she and Haughton fell to the ground, the district attorney said. Dixon then took out a gun and fired several shots, striking Haughton in the torso and right thigh. He later died at a local hospital.

Haughton’s death was the city’s first murder of 2011.

At his guilty plea, the judge indicated that Dixon would be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“A celebration of the New Year turned deadly when the defendant gunned down a man who was doing nothing more than trying to stop an attack on a woman,” Brown said. “This was a senseless act of violence for which the defendant will now be locked behind bars for a lengthy period of time.”

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Councilman Wills once again indicted on corruption charges


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Councilman Ruben Wills is racking up quite a rap sheet.

The city councilman, who had already been indicted, was indicted again on Tuesday for charges alleging that he filed false financial disclosure reports. He pleaded not guilty.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli charged Wills with allegedly filing false documents about his finances to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board. Elected officials in New York City must file these documents for public scrutiny and to guard against any potential conflicts between their personal and city business.

“Submitting false documents to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board is a serious crime,” Schneiderman said.  “My office’s partnership with the comptroller is designed to combat corruption in the public sector, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the public trust is not undercut by public servants who are not truthful in their disclosures.”

Schneiderman and DiNapoli charged Wills with five counts of the class E felony of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. Schneiderman and DiNapoli claim that from 2011 to 2013 Wills purposely omitted certain financial dealings. If convicted, Wills faces up to four years in prison.

And the history between the state attorney and Wills goes back to 2014.

Back in May 2014, Wills, who represents the 28th District, which includes Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale and South Ozone Park, was indicted on charges by Schneiderman for allegedly stealing public campaign funds and using the cash for a Louis Vuitton handbag and shopping sprees at Nordstrom, Century 21 and other locales. He’s also accused of taking a $33,000 member item from since-convicted former state Sen. Shirley Huntley for his fake charity but pocketing most of it. Those charges are pending.

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Bus fatally strikes pedestrian in Jamaica


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507_L_300_C_Y-624x416

A 42-year-old woman died after she was hit by a Nassau Inter-County Express bus Thursday night as she was crossing Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, police said.

The bus driver was stopped at a red light about 9:20 p.m. on northbound 165th Street and when it turned green he made a right onto Hillside Avenue, cops said. The victim was walking across Hillside, from south to north, when she was struck by the right rear portion of the bus.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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Developmentally disabled Queens woman who went missing in early December returns home


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A developmentally disabled Richmond Hill woman who went missing in Jamaica last year has returned home seven weeks after she disappeared, according to one of the centers where she receives services.

Bibi Kadim, 37, was last seen on Dec. 5 when she went out for lunch while she was at the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP). She was scheduled for a medical clinic appointment that afternoon, but had canceled the appointment, according to QCP.

Her worried parents, who say Kadim has a childlike mentality and needs daily medication, had not heard from her for weeks. But on Sunday their daughter came home to them. Further details on where she was during the time she was missing were not disclosed.

Staff of QCP and The Shield Institute in Bayside, where she also receives services, said she is looking forward to resuming her usual activities at their centers.

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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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17 city-owned sites in Jamaica identified for new affordable housing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark, Map courtesy of Google

In the de Blasio Administration’s latest effort to make a dent in the city’s housing crisis, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is calling on developers to build housing on about 175 sites across the city.

The agency released a list of vacant, city-owned properties for the construction of affordable housing across the five boroughs last week, including 17 sites in Jamaica, which are the only Queens locations.

The agency is collecting applications from developers until Feb. 19 for the program.

The city is even offering financing through its Neighborhood Construction and New Infill Homeownership Opportunities programs, but it comes with the requirement that at least one of every three units must be affordable or up to 80 percent of Area Median Income. That’s no more than $67,120 in annual income for a family of four.

This effort seems to be part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.

The single largest lot in the program is at 108-59 Union Hall St., which has 8,830 square feet. But if combined with adjoining vacant lots at 108-41, 43, 49, and 51 there is about 20,800 square feet of space.

Take a look at the map below to see where the Jamaica properties are, and click here for the full city-wide list.

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Developmentally disabled Queens woman missing for more than a month


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A Richmond Hill woman who is developmentally disabled and needs daily medication has been missing since early December, according to one of the centers where she receives services.

Bibi Kadim, 37, was last seen on Dec. 5. That day, Kadim had gone for lunch in the Jamaica neighborhood where Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), a place she goes for services, is located.

After she did not return from lunch, the staff called her mother. She told them that her daughter was scheduled for a medical clinic appointment that afternoon, but that Kadim had canceled, according to QCP.

Her parents, who live with Kadim in their home, have not heard from their daughter since she went missing.

The Shield Institute in Bayside, where Kadim also receives services, has known her for nearly 18 years. The center describes her as a very friendly individual who can communicate her wants and needs verbally. But, according to her parents, she has a child-like mentality.

She is also diabetic and needs daily medication and therefore is “at great risk,” according to QCP.

“We are obviously very concerned that Bibi has been missing for this length of time,” said Charles Houston, CEO of QCP said in a statement. “QCP and The Shield Institute are working with the family and police to bring Bibi home.”

Kadim is 5 feet 5 inches tall and 194 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink hoodie, navy blue jacket, blue jeans and  sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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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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Councilman opens legal center in his Jamaica office aimed at helping immigrants


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Access to legal services, particularly for immigrants, just got a little easier in Jamaica thanks to Councilman Ruben Wills, who opened a new legal service annex in his Jamaica office for his constituents — and the services are all free.

“There had long been a glaring need in my district for free legal services,” Wills said. “To better meet the needs of my constituents as well as members of the greater community, I maximized their availability. In light of President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, we fully expect a future surge in demand.”

The newly renovated space, which is located at 95-26 Sutphin Blvd., is just blocks away from Queens County Civil and Supreme Court. It has increased capacity to accommodate both an attorney and a paralegal or junior attorney. The office is working in part with CUNY Citizenship Now, which provides those visiting with assistance when navigating the legal process. Right now, legal services are provided three days a week at the office but this will increase to four in the coming months.

One of the residents already helped by Wills and the legal team came to the ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 8 to show his appreciation. Miguel Garcia, 70, came to the United States in 1969 from El Salvador. He was having issues getting his full citizenship. The major difficulty was a language barrier as he only spoke Spanish and didn’t fully understand the legal process.

He was helped by Rosanna Eugenio, a lawyer at the office, back in 2012 and was finally granted his full citizenship in 2013.

willis_2

“Their help was great,” Garcia said through a translator. “I had no problems once I came here for help. Being a citizen feels great: I feel free and don’t have to worry anymore.”

Garcia is one of the 600 constituents in Wills’ district that was or is being helped by the program. The new program offers an immigration attorney two days a week and a general attorney two days a week.

Wills also said on Fridays, he is offering the office to those in his council district who need a place to study for their legal exams if they are choosing a career path in law.

“Free legal assistance is vital to the community’s well-being,” Assemblywomen Vivian Cook said. “This expansion will aid more of our constituents at a faster rate and produce better outcomes.”

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