Concerned residents and community leaders gathered on October 26th at Club Tobago in Jamaica for an update on the redevelopment plan of the Downtown Jamaica area and neighboring residential communities.
Officials at the Departments of City Planning and Housing Preservation Development made changes to the proposed Jamaica redevelopment plan after receiving criticism from residents at public comment meetings in May and June at York College. Changes resulted in an increase in the proposed floor to area ratio on a number of sites.
The revised plan shows that the area proposed for rezoning, which could result in different types of development on numerous sites, covers approximately 356 blocks in Jamaica’s business and shopping district and the adjacent residential neighborhoods of Jamaica, South Jamaica, Hollis and St. Albans. It is generally bounded by the Van Wyck Expressway service road to the west, 87th Road and Highland Avenue to the north, 189th, 190th and 191st Streets and Farmers Boulevard to the east and Waltham Street, 105th, 108th, 109th, Sayres and 110th Avenues to the south.
The proposed zoning changes would also directly affect properties located along the southern edges of Briarwood, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates and Holliswood.
The rezoning area encompasses approximately 777 acres of land currently zoned for low- to medium-density residential, commercial and industrial uses. The proposed changes, which would be in conjunction with the Special Downtown Jamaica District and the Jamaica Gateway Urban Renewal Plan, would result in an increase in permitted density on approximately 453 acres of land.
A decrease in permitted density would affect approximately 127 acres. Approximately 176 acres, excluding park land, would experience no change in permitted density, but would be affected by a change in permitted use and or height and setback regulations.
The proposed changes would also involve the disposition of property within the boundaries of Jamaica gateway urban renewal area that will become city-owned. The proposed rezoning would affect all or portions of 329 blocks in Community District 12 and all or portions of 27 blocks in Community District 8.
Gertrude Gonesh, a longtime Jamaica resident and community activist, welcomes the redevelopment, but said she wants to see the redevelopment plan benefit the people in the community. “The developers must be able to offer our young people jobs.”
Joe Johnson, of Jamaica, does not want to see new stores built but more hospitals, community centers, and facilities where the youth can learn job skills.
Some business owners are concerned that as a result of the rezoning, developers would push them out of the area.
To receive a copy of the Downtown Jamaica Redevelopment Plan, contact your community board or Deborah Carney, deputy director of the Queens City Planning Office at 718-286-3135.