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Jobs up for grabs in Jamaica

Two pieces of property are slated to be developed near the Long Island Rail Road station in downtown Jamaica.
TimesLedger Newspapers

With projects to develop two pieces of property near the Long Island Rail Road station and the Atlantic Avenue extension on the horizon, there are possibly hundreds of jobs on the table in downtown Jamaica — jobs the community would like to see go to minority- and women-owned businesses.

“That’s three major projects in our community this year. If we don’t get a hold of them, we’re going to lose hundreds of jobs,” said James Heyliger, chairman of the Land Use Committee of Jamaica’s Community Board 12 and president of the Association of Minority Enterprises of New York.

The city Economic Development Corp. will be accepting proposals on behalf of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. through Oct. 3 for a transit-oriented development on a 58,000-square-foot plot of land on the north side of the station.

The site, which stretches east along Archer Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard, is occupied by a number of shops and owned by an affiliate of Greater Jamaica, which will make the ultimate selection. The request for proposal issued by the EDC requests that 20 percent of the plan include businesses that have been certified as minority- or women-owned.

Greater Jamaica has also issued an RFP jointly with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to develop a plot of land it acquired with money from the Port Authority on the south side of the station.

In 2004, the Port Authority gave Greater Jamaica $5.4 million, half which it used to refurbish the Sutphin Avenue underpass and the other half to purchase the property with the plan of developing it as a home for JetBlue or other corporate tenants.

Under the terms of the deal, the nonprofit had until 2008 to develop the property, at which point the Port Authority was either to get its money back or claim the property.

After media attention earlier this year pointed out the land had still not been developed, the authority gave Greater Jamaica until the beginning of 2013 to start the project or it would take the land.

Greater Jamaica said it is looking for a developer to build a 3.5-star hotel on the 10,000-square-foot property and encouraged minority- and women-owned businesses to submit their proposals by Oct. 31.

The EDC is also in the planning phase on a city Department of Transportation project to connect Atlantic Avenue as it runs east on the south side of the station with 95th Avenue and create a public park in the process.

The city, however, has a poor record of including minority- and women-owned businesses.

According to City Comptroller John Liu’s office, those businesses pulled in less than 3 percent of $17 billion worth of city money last year. The largest portion of that 3 percent went to businesses certified as Asian American, followed by Caucasian women, Hispanic Americans and then black Americans.

The comptroller’s report card, it should be noted, does not rate the EDC or Greater Jamaica. It did rate CB 12, however, which spent all of its money last year — a mere $129 — with a Hispanic-owned business.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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