QUEENS — The city is looking to revitalize Jamaica by developing vacant spaces and replacing them with new housing and retail stores and creating more job training opportunities for local youth under its long-awaited "action plan."
The plan consists of about two dozens "actions," developed over the past 10 months with community input, most of which are scheduled to be implemented within the next 3 years, the city said.
On Wednesday Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, announced that as part of the plan, Downtown Jamaica will be included in the LinkNYC program, which will replace pay phones with free public Wi-Fi kiosks.
The goals also include expanding afterschool job preparation programs and training entrepreneurs interested in developing new food businesses in the neighborhood.
"We want to keep young professionals right here in Jamaica," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "We want the underemployed to be more employed and we want the unemployed to have jobs."
The plan also seeks to redesign storefronts along Sutphin Boulevard and other commercial streets in the area and calls for establishing of the Jamaica Arts Alliance, a group which would promote local artists and Jamaica’s cultural legacy.
In addition, the city is planning to invest $250,000 to make Jamaica Avenue more pedestrian friendly by adding new seating areas and plantings.
Katz will soon create a new council consisting of people involved in the neighborhood which will make sure the goals are being implemented, the city said.
Other "actions" include upgrades to local parks, installing more NYPD security cameras in the area, launching initiatives to encourage healthy eating habits, implementing a new Select Bus Service route from Jamaica to Flushing, and redeveloping a parking garage into a mixed-income housing project.
"It’s a great place to live but it should be better," Glen said about Jamaica. "It should be a better place to invest, to grow a business, to start a business, to make money, it should be a place to find a job and to get the skills you need for the job in the 21st century."
Long-term goals, which would take more than 3 years, include improvements to the Station Plaza near the AirTrain station and several initiatives to develop underutilized and vacant spaces in Downtown Jamaica and replacing them with new housing, retail stores and business incubator spaces.
The initiatives amount to approximately $153 million in current public funding, the city said.
Glen also said that new initiatives may be included in the plan in the future.
City officials said that the neighborhood, which have been galvanized by the opening of JFK's AirTrain in downtown Jamaica in 2003, has recently been attracting new hotels and housing developments and is poised for more changes.
"Jamaica is a neighborhood with a number of tremendous strengths, and today we officially begin building upon these incredible strengths to create quality jobs, support businesses, promote economic development, and improve livability in the area," said Kyle Kimball, president of the city's Economic Development Corporation, in a statement.
"After extensive discussions with the community, we have devised this plan that will make Jamaica a more critical and revitalized place for all New Yorkers."