QUEENS — The developer planning to build a massive retail complex in Jamaica decided to increase the size of the proposed center and to include affordable housing after being pushed by the mayor's office.
Initially the proposal, announced in 2013, sought to convert two parking lots on 168th Street, near 90th Avenue, into a 160,000-square-foot retail store and a 550-space parking garage for shoppers.
But after talking to potential retailers, the developer decided to increase the size of the planned center to 265,000 square feet, according to Raffaela Petrasek of the Blumenfeld Development Group, which is working on the project with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit that owns the parking lots.
The developer, as first reported by the Queens Courier, is also planning to include affordable housing.
Petrasek said that the housing portion of the project would be located on the same parking lot where the garage is being planned. She also noted that at this point it's not clear how many apartment units would be created.
"Affordable housing is a major concern for the city... especially with projects like ours that are going through an approval process," Petrasek said. "And we are willing to have that conversation with the city."
The developer is still looking for an “anchor store” for the retail complex and is talking to several retailers, including Costco, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, BJ’s Wholesale and a number of supermarkets, Petrasek said.
The plan, she said, may also include building a walkway over 168th Street connecting the proposed retail center and the planned garage across the street.
Petrasek said that under current zoning regulations the project is required to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). She said the developer is hoping the plan will be approved by 2016.
Initially, the project was estimated to cost $50 million, but Petrasek said that now, after the plan has been expanded, the final price tag will definitely be higher.
Department of City Planning spokeswoman Rachaele Raynoff said that she would not be able to confirm any details regarding the project until the developer files an application with the agency.