QUEENS — A local organization is planning a number of initiatives to improve Jamaica's image, including organizing concerts and late night events.
Jamaica Center Business Improvement District has been around for more than three decades, but in recent years the organization has intensified its efforts to make the neighborhood more attractive, said Laurel Brown, who has been executive director of the BID since 2011.
In June, Jamaica Center BID, which focuses on Jamaica Avenue between Sutphin Boulevard and 169th Street, organized its second fashion show, showcasing local designers and promoting the neighborhood as a shopping destination. The event attracted about 400 people, Brown said.
Now, the BID is launching a “Queens Royalty” campaign, which will include organizing concerts, art exhibits and late night events to encourage local stores to stay open later in the evening.
One of the planned concerts is scheduled for mid September and will take place on 165th Street, Brown said. Details are still being worked out, but Brown said that “because we have jazz and hip-hop legends from Jamaica, it’s going to be a concert that kind of blends jazz and hip-hop.”
As part of the campaign, a photographer hired by the BID is taking pictures of neigborhood residents wearing their best clothes. The pictures will be projected onto the exteriors of the buildings in downtown Jamaica.
“All of it is about promoting Jamaica in a very positive light,” said Brown. “We want to create an electric experience that visitors can sense immediately.”
The BID is also working on curbing illegal vendors and on attracting businesses “that people want,” said Brown, adding that the BID has recently hired a retail development associate to help bring new businesses to the neighborhood.
As part of the efforts to beautify the area the BID is also working with local business owners to improve window displays. The goal is to make the displays more attractive and inviting.
Earlier this week, the BID worked on changing the display at Golden Krust, Caribbean Bakery & Grill, on Parsons Boulevard.
“This project has transformed our look and gave it that ‘city feel,’” said Conroy Champagne, the store's manager.
The store's windows are now filled with colorful images of its food.
“It used to be drab, now it has great quality pictures,” Champagne said.
Brown said the BID has helped change window displays at 14 different stores. Many more business owners have expressed their interest to improve the look of their displays, Brown said.
“We are really trying to create a place where local residents and outsiders want to be,” said Michael Hirschhorn, president of Jamaica Center BID.