Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Developer Selected to Build Large Affordable Housing Project

The City of New York has selected a developer to turn a former NYPD parking garage in Jamaica, Queens, into a large, mixed-use complex with more than 350 affordable apartments.

The project, which will be developed by Omni New York, is a key component of the de Blasio administration's 2015 economic development initiative called the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, which aims to spur job growth and retail development in the neighborhood.

"This proposal builds on southeast Queens' strengths as a commercial and transit hub," said Maria Torres-Springer, president of the city's Economic Development Corp.

A request for proposals for the site was issued in February 2015, with Manhattan-based Omni submitting the winning bid. All of the units in the new building, located on 168th Street between Jamaica and 93rd avenues, will be enrolled in the city's affordable-housing program, and a portion of the parking in the building will be dedicated for NYPD use.

The project, which will also include ground-floor retail, is the first milestone of a larger effort to foster job growth in Jamaica, which is served by four subway lines, a major Long Island Rail Road junction and the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Yet, despite those existing transit advantages and a 2007 rezoning that allowed for the construction of ample commercial office space and hotels, job growth and economic activity have declined during the past decade, according to the city.

De Blasio's plan calls for improving streetscapes and storefronts to entice more retail shoppers, launching job programs for residents and unlocking vacant lots for housing and commercial development. The neighborhood will also be the first in the city to get free WiFi.

The NYPD parking garage development is the only residential project specifically outlined in the plan, and was hashed out with input from local stakeholders, ensuring community support.

The mayor's initiative is the latest in a series of attempts to foster economic growth in the area.

A neighborhood nonprofit called the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has been working for years to encourage development on a handful of large sites, and some of those projects are now starting to rise. An affordable-housing project called the Crossing at Jamaica Station is under construction, for example, along with a Hilton Garden Inn.

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $10 million grant that includes funding for a staff of planners to assess tweaks to the neighborhood's transportation junctions and potential new apartment projects.

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