QUEENS — The city’s plan to widen Archer Avenue and create pedestrian plazas near the AirTrain station in downtown Jamaica, one of the busiest and most congested areas in the neighborhood, could take 5 years to complete after a series of delays, sources said.
The $50 million "Station Plaza" project, which was expected to begin in 2016, will start in 2 to 3 years instead, partially because of delays related to acquiring privately owned property, which needs to be demolished in order to complete the project, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
The project is one of many initiatives planned for the area that have been galvanized by the opening of JFK's AirTrain in downtown Jamaica in 2003, which helped turn the neighborhood into a major transportation hub.
The plan calls for widening Archer Avenue in order to create broader sidewalks and new turning lanes for buses as well as bus loading areas, according to the city Economic Development Corporation's website. It also envisions developing public plazas at the intersection with Sutphin Boulvard.
The proposal also seeks to move subway exits, which are currently located on Sutphin Boulevard, from the sidewalks and place them on the planned public plazas instead.
The new plazas would also feature bus shelters and retail kiosks, according to the EDC.
The city is currently in the process of acquiring privately owned property along Archer Avenue. The Archer Avenue post office also has to be relocated, the agency said.
The plan, approved in 2007, is currently in the design phase. Initially, the project was expected to begin in 2016, but the agency said it's being delayed by issues related to property acquisition and design.
Yvonne Reddick, district manager for Community Board 12, said that "Station Plaza," once complete, “will certainly enhance the area and we are looking forward to it.”
“Jamaica is a neighborhood with a number of tremendous strengths, including its close proximity to dozens of transit options," said EDC spokesman Ian Fried.
"The Station Plaza redevelopment will create a safer pedestrian environment and ease traffic congestion, helping to make Jamaica even more accessible for all residents, visitors and commuters.”
In 2012, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit working on revitalizing the area, renovated the so-called "Sutphin Underpass," creating 5,500 square feet of new retail space directly across the street from the AirTrain terminal and the Long Island Rail Road station, according to the EDC's website.
There are also plans to build a 580-unit apartment complex and a 24-story hotel there.