Members to Oversee Implementation of Jamaica Now Action Plan Blueprint for Area Growth

QUEENS, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz today announced her appointees to the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, a new group created by the Borough President to oversee and evaluate efforts to unleash Jamaica’s vast potential for economic growth.

The Leadership Council will oversee the implementation of the Jamaica Now Action Plan “Action Plan”, a blueprint for economic growth and development in Jamaica released earlier this year. The Action Plan is the product of the Jamaica Planning Initiative, a neighborhood-based process launched by Borough President Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio that has brought City government and local stakeholders together to develop ideas to promote Jamaica’s development. The Council represents the diverse mix of stakeholders who participated in the Jamaica Planning Initiative.

“Jamaica is a wonderful neighborhood with a huge untapped potential for growth,” Borough President KATZ said. “The Jamaica Now Leadership Council consists of stakeholders truly vested in the area’s success. Each appointee is entrusted with overseeing the Plan’s rollout and ensuring that the community’s interests are paramount throughout implementation.”

Borough President Katz assembled a selection committee to review applications submitted by over 80 community stakeholders and appointed the Leadership Council members at the recommendations of the selection committee. The Borough President will chair the Leadership Council, while two appointees will serve as co-chairs.

The individuals who have been named to the Jamaica Planning Initiative Leadership Council are:

Adrienne Adams (Queens Community Board 12); Maha Akhtar (Resident); Nigel Nyrun Barker (Resident); Rhonda Binda (Jamaica Center BID); Brian Browne (St. John’s University); Ricardi Calixte (Queens Economic Development Corporation); Tonya Cantlo-Cockfield (Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning); Jennifer Ching (Queens Legal Services); Salvatore D’Avola (Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund Corporation); Reverend Floyd H. Flake (Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York); Kevin J. Forrestal (Queens Community Board 8); Deepmalya Ghosh (The Child Center of New York); Michael Griffith (New York City Department of Transportation); Adjoa Gzifa (Resident); Tyrel Hankerson (Resident); Ian Harris (Queens Community Board 12); Cathy Hung (Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning/Jamaica Performing Arts Center); Dr. Greg M. Ilag (Resident); Derek Irby (165th Street Mall Improvement Association); Bilal Karriem (Queens Community Board 12); Malikka Karteron (Resident); Michele Keller (Business Owner); Michael X. Mattone (Commercial Property Owner/Developer); Helen Maxwell (Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica); Simone Price (Sutphin Boulevard BID); Justin Rodgers (Greater Jamaica Development Corporation); Pierina Ana Sanchez (Regional Plan Association); Aaron Schwartz (Commercial Property Owner); Emily Schwartz (King Manor Museum); Earl Simons (York College); Nakita Vanstory (LaGuardia Community College – Justice Community Program); Bernard Warren (Jamaica YMCA); Richard Werber (King Manor Museum); Montgomery Wilkinson (Resident); Tiffany Williams (YMCA Y-Roads Program); Dr. Tom Zlabinger (York College) and a representative of the Queens Library Central Branch.

The Leadership Council also includes the following Ex-Officio Members: U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks; State Senators Leroy Comrie and James Sanders; Assemblymembers Barbara Clark, Vivian Cook, Michele Titus and David Weprin; Councilmembers Rory Lancman, I. Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards and Ruben Wills.

“Jamaica is one of the last affordable commercial hubs in the City, yet it is strategically positioned for huge growth thanks to its available housing and amenities and its easy access to mass transit,” Borough President KATZ added. “The members of the Leadership Council will be charged with ensuring that the Action Plan creates a diverse, vibrant and accessible community around one of our City’s great central business districts and inter-modal transportation hubs.”

Membership on the Leadership Council was open to those who live, work, own commercial property, own a business, or run a community-based non-profit organization in Jamaica. All members are required to be 18 years or older.

The Leadership Council will meet at least four times per year during the implementation of the Action Plan. The first meeting takes place this evening at Queens Borough Hall. The Leadership Council will also form committees that may meet more regularly.

The Jamaica Planning Initiative’s effort to develop the Jamaica NOW Action Plan was led by Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen in partnership with Borough President Katz and the community. The Action Plan is the product of a nine month-long effort to solicit, analyze and respond to input from neighborhood stakeholders on ways to facilitate Jamaica’s growth. The effort has included the holding of two public conferences and 30 meetings during which a large number of excellent development ideas were presented, reviewed and incorporated into the Jamaica Action Plan.

Uniting new initiatives with ongoing projects, the Action Plan seeks to address the challenges that have faced the Jamaica area in recent years by providing workforce training and small business support, initiating new mixed-use development anchored by affordable housing, and improving the livability of the neighborhood through investments in safety measures, green spaces and more. The 21 strategic actions, 16 of which will be launched and implemented in the next three years, represent approximately $153 million in current public funding.

Highlights of the Action Plan include:

LinkNYC Wi-Fi – inclusion of the Downtown Jamaica Corridor into Phase 1 of LinkNYC Wi-Fi rollout;

Funding for Marketing and Branding – commitment of expense dollars for a marketing and branding program specifically for Jamaica;

Jamaica Avenue Streetscape Improvements – additional seating, increased plantings and improved pedestrian circulation. $250,000 secured by Mayor de Blasio for a streetscape study commencing in FY16 for DOT to determine the cost and scope;

Jamaica Entrepreneurship – launch a new program to train and jump-start next generation of Jamaica entrepreneurs with an emphasis on catering, quality dining and nightlife options;

Enhanced Public Safety – fund and install additional NYPD security cameras in high-traffic corridors with the 103rd and 113th Precincts;

Jamaica Arts Alliance – develop common goals among Jamaica’s artists and existing arts and culture institutions to strengthen collaboration and create large-scale events and public art projects;

Redevelopment of 168th Street Garage – 59,000 square foot development site for mixed-income housing, retail and community center on northeast corner of 93rd Avenue and 168th Street (formerly an NYPD garage). RFP launched on February 10, 2015, and winning proposal TBD;

New Affordable Homeownership and Rentals – development of affordable one- to four-family homes, condominiums, cooperatives and small affordable rental buildings across approximately 11 city-owned sites in South Jamaica. RFQ launched in December 2014;

Activate Potential in AirTrain/LIRR Transit Hub – incentives for absentee property owners to activate vacant and derelict sites near current AirTrain/LIRR transit hub for development of new housing, retail and business incubator space.

Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or