Tag Archives: Sutphin Boulevard BID

Executive director of Sutphin Boulevard BID steps down

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Inset courtesy of LinkedIn/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Simone Price, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID), stepped down from her role last week to take a job at the MTA.

Price, who has acted as executive director for seven years, led a number of initiatives to revitalize storefronts and attract new businesses to Jamaica. She will become the assistant director of government and community relations at the MTA starting on Sept. 8.

Price said this was her second job out of college and that she jokingly tells people that she “grew up in this role,” as she learned marketing, retail attraction, managing day-to-day operations, urban planning and economic development in her tenure.

One of her favorite projects included the upgrade of five storefront facades, which was made possible by a $95,000 grant from the city’s Small Business Services department (SBS). Her work, which has included helping existing retailers to improve their businesses and proving to prospective retailers that Jamaica is a viable place to operate a business, has led to strong relationships, she said.

“I’m really passionate about this work and worked really hard to make sure that their needs are met and quality of life is improved as a result of my work in the BID and the mission of the BID,” Price said.

Her Adopt-a-Family program is also a highlight of her career, she said, because she created a “sense of community and family” with the five-year program. Business owners are encouraged to donate toys, clothes and shoes to children in shelters and foster care centers across Queens. The program supports more than 100 families in need.

Though the BID has not found a new director, Price hopes that her replacement continues expanding the programs she established and also “[taps] into some of the areas that perhaps they have more of an expertise in.”

Price said the organization has a greater number of resources and grants available to them, which will allow the new director to hire more staff and leverage the growing popularity of the organization and the increasing real estate development in downtown Jamaica.

“Maybe they’ll think about expanding the boundaries once the development takes place” and “getting better quality retail in place and systems where you can quantify the services that are taking place…in terms of spending power, buying power in the area and the number of people that are coming here to shop,” Price said.

The BID represents 134 businesses between Hillside and 94th Avenues and is funded by a special tax assessment paid for by property owners in the district. To apply for the executive director position, visit the Sutphin Boulevard BID website.


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.





Sheraton coming to Jamaica

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Andrew Levenbaum, P.E.

Downtown Jamaica development is under way with the official announcement of a Four Points Sheraton hotel headed to the area.

After the economic downturn of a few years ago, development and investment interest is at long last picking back up, said Laurel Brown, executive director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District (BID).

“There is a lot of untapped potential down here. We’re seeing people latch onto that,” she said. “Having Sheraton invest in Jamaica just underscores exactly what we’re saying.”

The 150-room hotel is expected to go up on 94th Avenue near 147th Street, one block away from JFK International Airport’s AirTrain and the Long Island Railroad transportation hub. Groundbreaking is projected for later this year or early 2014, according to Andrew Levenbaum, P.E., the architect for the project.

Community leaders hope that the addition of a well-known name such as Sheraton will bring fliers as well as a more diverse crowd to the area.

Simone Price, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, said it also had the potential to elevate interest for other businesses to plant roots in Jamaica.

“People always want to see someone else come into the district first,” she said. The Sheraton “will be a great launching pad.”

Price added the hotel will give southeast Queens its first meeting and event space as well as job opportunities.

The BIDs and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) are still in talks with various businesses in hopes of getting them to lease space in the area, Brown said.

CityRib, a new Manhattan-based barbecue eatery, is slated to open in the neighborhood as well. Brown said the high-end restaurant will give residents and visitors a different option in a community dominated by fast-food chains.