QUEENS — Downtown Jamaica’s skyline is about to change forever.
A cluster of apartment buildings and hotels are planned or currently under construction around its busy transportation hub, which includes the AirTrain, Long Island Rail Road and subway stations.
Over the next couple of years more than 2,000 new apartment units, many of them affordable, as well as about 1,500 hotel rooms will be added to downtown Jamaica, which attracts developers with its proximity to the airport, as well as affordable land prices, local experts said.
Photo: DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska
Locals said they hope the new construction sites will bring jobs to the community.
Valerie Stevens, director of Business Services and Operations for the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District, said she hopes that tenants moving to Jamaica will shop in the neighborhood, "putting money back in the community."
But at the same time she wondered whether affordable housing planned for the area will indeed be affordable for local residents.
Source: Greater Jamaica Development Corporation
The recent construction boom has also stirred concerns about traffic, infrastructure and whether new hotels will be able to generate enough business preventing them from becoming homeless shelters.
Others have speculated that new retailers can push out old mom-and-pop shops.
Hope Knight, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit group that has worked for decades to bring new investments to the neighborhood, said that in several years, she expects the area to have much more “residential density,” which she said will help support amenities like dining and entertainment options “that will begin to emerge here.”
She also said Jamaica will be different from other neighborhoods that have been attracting developers in recent years, such as Greenpoint or Long Island City, where most new buildings are market rate, while in Jamaica most of them are affordable housing.
“And I think that this affordable housing will help to keep the community at its core, consistent with what it is today,” she said.
Here are some of the major developments in downtown Jamaica that are currently under construction or planned for the near future:
Developed by BRP Companies, the 773,000-square-foot project near the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Road station, will consist of two towers. The 30-story high-rise at 147-40 Archer Ave. will have 539 mixed-income apartments and the 15-story mid-rise at 148-10 Archer Ave. will include 130 low-income units. The $407 million project will also feature 35,000 square feet of retail space, a community facility, 187 parking spaces and roof terraces. It's the largest private investment in Jamaica in decades, and it's expected to create approximately 4,000 construction jobs. BRP broke ground on the project in April and hopes to complete it by mid-2019.
A massive 26-story building at 147-20 94th Ave. will contain 380 apartments, 100 percent of them affordable. The nearly 300,000-square-foot building, between Sutphin Boulevard and 148th Street, will feature a shared roof deck, communal terrace, yoga room, gym, lounge, teen room and children's play area. It will most likely be finished in a year, the company said.
An affordable housing lottery is now open for this recently completed 14-story building at 92-61 165th St., near Archer Avenue, which features 88 units. Developed by Jamaica-based NHS Development Corporation in partnership with The Arker Companies and Slate Property Group, the building boasts a laundry facility, outdoor courtyard, recreation room and bicycle storage. The building includes 24 studios, 13 one-bedrooms, 46 two-bedrooms and five three-bedrooms, which are priced between $494 and $1,182 a month, depending on income and size of the family. Applications are due by Oct. 16.
A crumbling police garage at 92-33 168th St., between Jamaica and Archer avenues, will soon be transformed into a 450,000-square-foot development that will include 389 apartments, which will be 100 percent affordable. There will also be a recreational center and retail space on the ground-floor and a below-ground parking with space allocated for NYPD use. Omni New York was tapped by the New York City Economic Development Corporation to develop the project through an RFP process issued in 2015. The city expects construction to begin sometime this year. It will take about three years to complete the project.
A new 12-story building featuring 177 affordable units will replace a parking lot owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, which is teaming up on the project with the Bluestone Organization. The new 122-foot-tall tower at 89-50 164th St., between 89th and Jamaica avenues, will also feature a 63-car garage, commercial space and community center. The group expects to complete the project sometime next year.
The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is currently reviewing proposals to develop a 500,000-square-foot building at 90-02 168th St. The mixed-use complex would include about 75,000 square feet of retail and at least 250 mixed-income residential units, with 10 to 20 percent of them to be set aside for artists. Initially, the group planned to build a department store on the site, the first in the neighborhood in more than three decades, but the deal was terminated last year.
Source: Hill West
The Chetrit Group, which in 2009 bought the former Mary Immaculate Hospital complex at 150-13 89th Ave., near Rufus King Park, is currently redeveloping the site into luxury market rate apartments. Two of the main hospital buildings, which are currently seven stories, will be transformed into a 16-story apartment building, featuring nearly 340 rental apartments. A nearby four-story historic building will be converted into townhouses, according to Hill West, which designed the complex. The company expects to complete the project in 2018.
Chris Xu, a Flushing-based developer, who built several hotels near LaGuardia Airport and in Chinatown, is currently building three hotels in downtown Jamaica. Two of them (Courtyard and Fairfield Inn) will be located in one 16-story building at 148-18 Archer Avenue, containing a total of about 330 rooms, while a six-story SpringHill Suites at 140-35 Queens Blvd. will feature 160 rooms. Opening is planned for early 2019.
The 26-story hotel, at 93-43 Sutphin Blvd., will be located directly across the street from the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Road station. Developed by Able Hotels, the $54 million project will bring 240 new rooms to the area. It will also feature a sit-down restaurant and a business center. Groundbreaking is expected to take place sometime this year or early next year and construction is expected to finish in 2019.
► Hotel to replace former Human Resources Administration building
Ampiera Group is planning to redevelop a six-story building at 90-75 Sutphin Blvd. formerly occupied by the city’s Human Resources Administration, into a 19-story hotel featuring 213 rooms, which according to published reports will be a Hampton Inn & Suites. Construction is set to begin in 2017.
TCX Development, which already has several projects in Jamaica Estates, is planning to build the 16-story hotel at 92-18 150th St. The 80-room hotel will boast a rooftop bar overlooking Rufus King Park, Jamaica Avenue and the surrounding area. The company’s application filed with the Department of Buildings to construct the hotel was approved in December 2016. It was not immediately clear when TCX expects to complete the project.
Jamaica-based developer Kaushik Patel is planning to build a three-hotel complex at the intersection of 146th Street, Sutphin Boulevard and 101st Avenue. The complex will bring nearly 400 rooms to the area, with three different hotel chains operating at the site — Wyndham Garden, Country Inns & Suites and La Quinta Inns & Suites. All three buildings are slated to be nine-stories high and will offer 51 parking spaces.
The owner of a six-story building at 92-32 Union Hall St., between Jamaica and Archer avenues, is planning to convert it into a 110-room hotel. The plans were approved by the Department of Buildings in June, but it was not immediately clear when the owner expect to open the hotel.
Pride Ventures is planning to construct an eight-story hotel featuring 128 rooms at 149-03 Archer Ave., according to the Department of Buildings website. Initially, the developer sought to build an 18-story building with 283 rooms.