Tag Archives: jamaica

Jamaica of the future imagined by residents


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Imagine Jamaica with more affordable housing, better transportation and more, higher-paying localized jobs.

That was the vision put forward for the neighborhood when more than 100 residents and community advocates attended the city-run Jamaica Planning Initiative meeting this past weekend.

“We’ve been talking to ourselves for too long in this community,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “We care about the future and are so excited for this plan going forward.”

With so much change having hit the neighborhood already, the city came up with the idea of meeting with local residents to find out what they want in the future. The Jamaica Planning Initiative was a community workshop that broke up residents in attendance into four small groups: 1) transportation, public space and urban design, 2) housing and commercial development, 3) Jamaica identity, branding and marketing and 4) Jamaica jobs. Residents chose the issue that they felt was most pertinent.

They focused on the study area east of the Van Wyck Expressway to Farmers Boulevard and north of Linden Boulevard to Union Turnpike.

Topics discussed were plans for more affordable housing units, finding safer ways for pedestrians to cross streets, creating a localized job market for residents in the community, upgrading small business opportunities and bringing better transportation to the neighborhood.

One issue that was brought up by residents was the concern for more affordable housing.

“We need affordable places for people to live that don’t make much money,” one resident said in a focus group. “That is where the money should be invested.”

At this point, the city agencies working on the project, which include the DOT, Regional Plan Association, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the NYC Small Business Service among local elects, were looking for community feedback so they can move along to the next phase, which is the Jamaica Action Plan. It is the final step before actual implementation.

“The Jamaica Action Plan will incorporate your crucial feedback on topics of focus and opportunity,” said Cali Williams, vice president of the NYC EDC. “Based on today’s charrette sessions, the city will release a set of realistic projects and programs to improve and enliven the experience of Jamaica.”

The workshop turned out to be a major success for all parties.

Regarding the next step, which is the implantation process, the projects will be identified as short-, medium- and long-term proposals. Some of the short-term projects will begin “right away,” according to the EDC, and they and local elects are looking for the continued support of the neighborhood.

“Queens is the diamond of all boroughs,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “But we can’t have the greatness we are unless everybody participates in the building of our community.”

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Luxury penthouse building planned for Jamaica Estates


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of TCX Development

A new luxury penthouse building is coming to Jamaica Estates, further suggesting a change in investors’ attitudes toward the emerging market around the neighborhood.

Great Neck-based TCX Development is constructing the building, which will be located at 177-30 Wexford Terrace, a block away from the F train.

The group is also behind a seven-story rental building with a penthouse, which is being constructed at nearby 190-11 Hillside Ave.

The Wexford Terrace building will feature a rooftop terrace on top of eight stories with studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments. The exterior of the building will boast black brick and white panels.

There will be 68 total apartments, a 9,500-square-foot community facility space for residents and 47 parking spaces.

Prices at the residence building will start at $1,550 per month for studios, $1,750 for one-bedroom apartments and $2,200 for two-bedrooms, according to a representative from the firm.

The top two floors will have 10 penthouse units, which will start at $2,600.

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Queens basketball coach charged after lewd video chats with teen


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Title

A Queens basketball coach has been charged with child pornography possession after a 15-year-old he coached claimed they had lewd video chats, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Robert Walker, 42, who coaches three Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams and regularly conducts basketball workouts with teenage boys, communicated with the boy in April through ooVoo, a video chat and instant messaging application, according to Brown. He allegedly convinced the teen to not only pose naked via video, but also to send naked pictures of himself.

A search of Walker’s Jamaica home found a video on his computer of the 15-year-old victim posing naked, prosecutors said.

The chats came to light after the victim told his parent, who then contacted police.

Following his arrest, Walker allegedly admitted to engaging in inappropriate activity with other boys under the age of 16 during his basketball workouts. He said he would have them remove their clothing, then would take pictures and videos, including some of the boys masturbating, according to Brown.

As of Tuesday night, Walker was awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of use of a child in a sexual performance, disseminating indecent material to minors, possessing a sexual performance by a child and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Any other individuals who believe they may have also been victimized by Walker should call the 105th Precinct Detective Squad at 718-776-9252.

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Real estate firm helps give home to Queens family


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Urban Compass

Real estate firm Urban Compass is donating money — and time — so that a Queens family can have a home of their own.

The company has pledged $20,000 to Habitat for Humanity New York City to renovate a vacant Jamaica home, which will be purchased by a family of four from Elmhurst that was selected through the organization’s affordable homeownership program.

Urban Compass employees will also volunteer 500 hours to help construct the home at 178-25 93rd Ave. So far the team has already helped put up Sheetrock and worked on the backyard and lighting.

“The employees in the company are very community oriented and people that want to participate in society around them and help make the world better,” said Robert Reffkin, CEO and founder of Urban Compass.

The house, which is the first of many that Urban Compass plans to help Habitat NYC with, is expected to be completed in six months. The family will be able to move in May of next year.

178-25 93rd Ave.

178-25 93rd Ave.

Originally built in 1920, the home has been vacant for several years and has fallen into disrepair, according to Habitat for Humanity.

The organization bought the house for $1 from the New York City Housing Authority to be one of 13 properties around the city that will be transformed and purchased at low mortage interest rates by families through its homeownership program.

 

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Video: Queens bus driver fights with teen


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video via YouTube/Ms Irene

A Queens bus driver has been suspended after he was caught on camera physically fighting with a teenager over a fare, according to video footage and published reports.

The incident began when a 16-year-old boy boarded a Q112 bus Tuesday morning at Jamaica Boulevard and Guy R. Brewer Avenue in Jamaica, reports said. In the approximately three-minute video, the driver can be seen cursing at and berating the teen, who allegedly tried to get a free ride.


“If you’re a grown man you would have paid your f***ing fare,” he says in the video.

“I feel tough every f***ing day, little boy,” the driver also shouts at the teen.

The situation then escalates with the two exchanging insults and the bus driver getting in the teen’s face and eventually shoving him. They are seen struggling as the video cuts off.

After continuing to struggle for several minutes, the driver managed to throw the teen off the bus, the woman who shot the footage with her cellphone told the Daily News.

The teen reportedly then threw a garbage can at the bus. He has been charged with criminal mischief.

The driver has been suspended without pay, according to the Daily News.

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Burglar shot after attacking officer: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarLightsHC0708_L_300_C_Y-624x414

A 19-year-old man was shot during a Jamaica home invasion on Monday after he attacked a police officer, authorities said.

When cops arrived at the scene of the burglary on 142nd Street near 109th Avenue about 1:10 p.m., they heard a woman screaming for help from the home’s second floor, police said. Inside, they confronted the burglar, Leighton Friday, in the living room.

Friday then struck one of the officers in the head with a metal object, possibly a crowbar or a hammer, according to published reports. The injured officer and a second officer fired their guns at him, striking Friday in the wrist and thigh.

The officer was transported to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

Friday was also taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition, authorities said. He has been charged with two counts of burglary, assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

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F. Carlisle Towery retires after leading Jamaica revitalization


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

F. Carlisle Towery

F. Carlisle Towery, who oversaw the economic revitalization of Jamaica as the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for more than 40 years, announced his retirement Monday.

Towery, a trained architect and urban planner, was appointed to the position in 1971 by local business leaders after Jamaica was singled out as a neighborhood of importance due to its extensive transportation hub. At that time, economic decline had blighted much of the area.

Since then, Towery has worked with seven mayors and eight governors, dating back to John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller, to improve the neighborhood’s economy.

During his tenure, the Jamaica Avenue El was replaced by an underground subway, the AirTrain service was introduced, the Jamaica Arts Center was created and downtown Jamaica underwent enormous revitalization – to name just a few of his achievements.

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 a statement released by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.

Numerous apartment complexes, hotels and mixed-income housing projects are currently under construction in the neighborhood.

A search is now underway for Towery’s replacement.

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Queens man gets 45 years for murdering wife, young daughters in their bed


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A Jamaica man was sentenced to 45 years in prison for stabbing to death his wife and their two daughters, ages 1 and 2, after he flew into a jealous rage, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Miguel Mejia-Ramos, 29, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter in the killing of his wife, Deisy Garcia, 21, and their two children, prosecutors said. He allegedly stabbed Garcia and his daughters, Daniela and Yoselin Mejia, repeatedly with a kitchen knife sometime between Jan. 18 and 19.

Photos via Facebook

Photos via Facebook

He then tried to flee to Mexico, but was captured in Texas and arrested.

At the time of his arraignment, the District Attorney said Mejia-Ramos killed his girls because he didn’t have car seats to take them with him after committing the crime, according to published reports.

Following his arrest, he admitted that before killing his family, he had returned home drunk and looked through his wife’s phone, according to Brown. On the phone, he found a photo of his wife with another man and flew into a rage. Mejia-Ramos then grabbed the knife and stabbed his wife while she slept next to her children, then killed the girls.

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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]

 

 

 

Suspect wanted in connection to 21 Queens, Bronx commercial break-ins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted in connection with a string of citywide commercial burglaries.

In a total of 21 incidents, starting in June in Rosedale and most recently occurring on Oct. 20 in the Bronx, at least one suspect broke into commercial establishments via the roof, side or rear doors, or ventilation ducts while the business were closed, according authorities. Money from the cash register and broken-into ATMs, as well as miscellaneous items, such as cigarettes, were taken during the thefts.

In Queens, the burglaries have occurred in Laurelton, Broad Channel, Jamaica, Astoria, Queens Village, Bayside, Hollis, Glen Oaks, College Point, Richmond Hill and Flushing. The other break-ins all happened in the Bronx.

The NYPD has released surveillance photos of the male suspect wanted in an incident on Sept. 12 in Richmond Hill. During this burglary, at about 8 p.m. the suspect entered 88-24 Van Wyck Expressway via the roof, damaged the security system but did not remove any property, police said.

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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Mother charged with murder of 4-year-old girl at Jamaica homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

HandcuffsHC0511_L_300_C_Y-624x413

Updated  Monday, Oct. 27, 1:47p.m.

The mother of the child found dead at a Jamaica homeless shelter has been arrested and charged with murder, according to police.

The 4-year-old girl, Linayjah Meraldo, was found unresponsive and unconscious by police on Thursday at 12:50 p.m. at 80-20 134th St., authorities said. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene.

The location has been identified by published reports as the Briarwood Family Residence, a women’s and children’s temporary shelter.

On Friday, 35-year-old Latoya Curry, Linayjah’s mother, was charged with second-degree murder in connection to her daughter’s death, police said. She was also arraigned on charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to District Attorney Richard Brown, Curry, who was living at the shelter with her five children, became angry Wednesday night when the toddler squirted hand cream on the kitchen floor. Curry then allegedly hit her daughter in the stomach and face “so hard that a tooth was dislodged.”

The 35-year-old then allegedly dragged the girl into the bedroom and threw her against a wall and onto the bed, striking her again in her face and stomach, Brown said.

The district attorney said the 4-year-old child then cried and complained about pain in her abdomen, but fell asleep. The following morning, Linayjah woke up with a slight fever and continued to complain about pain in her stomach.

Then between 10 and 11:45 a.m. on the same day, Linayjah took a nap, and when Curry checked on her, she was unresponsive.

According to the office of the Medical Examiner, who ruled the toddler’s death a homicide, Linayjah died from blunt force injuries to her torso.

An autopsy performed on Friday showed that the toddler had internal injuries including multiple recent and healed rib fractures, a torn small intestine, internal bleeding and extensive bruising, and the child also appeared malnourished.

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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]

 

Man shot dead after attacking cops with hatchet in Jamaica


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Updated 9:37 p.m.

A hatchet-wielding man was shot and killed in Jamaica Thursday afternoon after injuring two police officers, authorities said.

The incident occurred at about 2 p.m. near Jamaica Avenue and 162nd Street, according to police.


As four rookie cops assigned to the 103rd Precinct were posing for a picture for a freelance photographer, the man, unprovoked and not saying a word, charged at them with the hatchet, authorities said.

One of the officers, 24-year old Joseph Meeker, was struck in the arm, and a second, 25-year old Kenneth Healey, was struck in the head, police said.

Photo via Instagram/@jonie.b

Photo via Instagram/@jonie.b

The two other officers then shot at the man, identified in media reports as 32-year-old Zale Thompson. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Healey was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in critical but stable condition, according to authorities. Meeker is expected to be released from the hospital late Thursday, reports said.

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The weapon used in the attack was a metal hatchet, about 18 inches long. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

A bystander, a 29-year-old woman, was shot in the back during the gunfire and taken to the hospital, where she is reportedly listed in stable condition.

Though a motive for the attack wasn’t immediately clear, the NYPD is not ruling out terrorism, the Daily News said.

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Four-year-old girl found dead at Jamaica homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

Updated 9:05 p.m.

A four-year-old girl was discovered dead Thursday afternoon at a Jamaica homeless shelter, police said.

The toddler, Linayjah Meraldo, was found at 12:50 p.m. inside 80-20 134th St., according to authorities.

The location has been identified by published reports as the Briarwood Family Residence, a women’s and children’s temporary shelter.

The girl was found with possible head trauma, reports said.

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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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