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Queens Chronicle

Jamaica BID looks toward the future

Downtown business organization hosts its 40th annual meeting

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Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:31 pm, Thu Nov 21, 2019.

Small business was the order of the day last Thursday as the Jamaica Business Improvement District held its 40th annual meeting at the Harvest Room on 160th Street.

Speakers included Commissioner Gregg Bishop of the city’s Department of Small Business Services and Borough President and Queens District Attorney-elect Melinda Katz.

Bishop said the value of the organizations cannot be overstated.

“There are 76 BIDs in this city serving 93,000 small businesses,” Bishop said. “We can’t do it alone.”

Jennifer Furioli, executive director of the BID, said 40 was not the only important number in terms of where the BID has been and where it is headed.

With sanitation taking up the lion’s share of the organization’s budget, Furioli said it devoted nearly 19,000 hours to cleanup issues in the previous 12 months, including the removal of 47,245 bags of trash from 101 baskets in Jamaica Avenue by its Streetplus Clean team. The group also dealt with more than 20,000 incidents of graffiti, illegal posters, stickers and handbills.

She also outlined more community-wide initiatives such as the BID’s Weekend Walks, which transformed sections of Jamaica Avenue into pedestrian plazas for a few hours while residents enjoyed food and family-friendly activities; and the recent Halloween party at King Manor Park.

“So, what’s next?” Furioli asked. “Well, numbers-wise for Jamaica, there are 4,866 residential units and 30 mixed-use projects in the pipeline and 2,498 hotel keys in 15 hotels in the pipeline.”

She said 614 units in five residential projects have been completed since 2015 and 268 hotel rooms in four buildings completed since 2015.

“And there is more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space in the works. Just this summer Burlington, H&M and New York and Company opened in the heart of our district and there are several other businesses preparing to open their doors shortly. It’s a thrilling time to be working, living and playing here, wouldn’t you agree?”

Jamaica’s revitalization has been on Katz’s front burner since she took office in 2014. She cited the work with the BIDs and the ability to leverage tens of millions in city and state aid.

And that was on top of the nearly $2 billion the city has dedicated to improve the water, sewer and flood control infrastructure in Southeast Queens over a 10-year period.

Katz acknowledged that the accompanying digging up of residential streets will pose a challenge for the next several years.

“But remember — we would have prayed for that 20 years ago,” she said. “Let’s keep that in perspective.”

Speakers also acknowledged the gains made by the NYPD, represented Thursday morning by neighborhood coordination officers from Jamaica’s 103rd Precinct.

“If our street corners aren’t safe, nobody comes,” Bishop said.

The officers also had an unscheduled talk when BID members asking questions from the floor brought up street vendors and the trouble those who are unlicensed can cause for brick-and-mortar businesses.

The officers said the 103rd investigates individual complaints, does routine checks and carries out regular sweeps along the business corridor for unlicensed operators.

“The result can be anything from a summons to an arrest, depending on the violation,” an officer said.

In many cases, members were told, the vendors are disabled veterans who have special licenses and are operating legally.

But he also said a check this week turned up a vendor hawking counterfeit merchandise.

“He was arrested on a felony charge,” he added.

In other business, Jonathan Guzman, the store sales manager at Carters on Jamaica Avenue, and Michael Hirschhorn, president of Jenel Management Corp., the board’s president, both were elected as board directors.

The group also honored BID board member Rose Boord, who is stepping down after more than a decade on the board.

The BID also presented certificates to Roy Fox, who has served as caretaker at the nearby King Manor Museum at Rufus King Park for 30 years; and Antonio Escamilla, a supervisor on the Streetplus Clean team for the last four years.

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1 comment:

  • JamaicaCenterBID posted at 12:29 pm on Fri, Nov 15, 2019.

    JamaicaCenterBID Posts: 0

    Thank you for the article featuring our Annual Meeting, Queens Chronicle! We are but a small piece in the puzzle of Jamaica's renaissance and we have to gratefully point to our fellow organizations that have also been working in this area for a long time, for their outstanding leadership and contributions: Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Sutphin Blvd. BID, 165th Street BID, our many cultural organizations, elected officials, the Jamaica NOW leadership council, CB12, York College and more. We look forward to continuing these relationships moving forward and appreciate your readership's support of our businesses on Jamaica Avenue!