Press Release #18-033
Friday, June 1, 2018
Contact: Scott Gastel/Brian Zumhagen (212) 839-4850
Gateway to Downtown Jamaica Sees Grand Opening with NYC DOT and City’s Jamaica NOW! Safety and Streetscape Redesign at Parsons Boulevard between Archer and Jamaica Avenues
NYC DOT, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, elected officials and local stakeholders celebrate interim enhancements to street safety and public space, a new commuter van hub and future capital construction funded via New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) today joined Queens elected officials, members of the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and local community stakeholders to unveil the redesign of the streetscape and new public space in the heart of Downtown Jamaica.
NYC DOT recently created pedestrian and public space on the east side of Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer Avenues to enhance the pedestrian experience and provide safer crossings along a Vision Zero priority area. This public space is part of the City’s Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a $153 million neighborhood revitalization initiative announced in 2015 by Mayor de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Funding for the project comes as part of New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“Under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, last year was the safest ever on the streets of Queens -- helping us bring down the number of Citywide traffic fatalities for the fourth straight year, bucking national trends,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “But we need to keep moving forward, and this crash-prone spot in Jamaica where three Vision Zero Priority Corridors converge needed our attention. We are proud of the safety enhancements Commissioner Garcia is unveiling today, as we will now better protect the enormous number of pedestrians walking through this vibrant district to shop, go to school and work and connect to mass transit. Working with our partners at the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, we have expanded the gateway to the heart of Downtown Jamaica into an inviting public space that better suits the warm welcome visitors always receive here.”
“Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is making real, lasting change to communities across New York State, including Jamaica, Queens,” said New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “The storied neighborhood, which was awarded $10 million as part of the successful program, will benefit from improved pedestrian safety and a more inviting downtown corridor. Through targeted investment and smart planning, state and local governments are combining forces to directly impact residents’ lives. We are proud to see this project come to fruition and look forward to seeing Jamaica continue to grow.”
The current project is implemented in interim materials. DOT transformed former road bed into a 26-foot sidewalk extension using paint, signage and streetscape amenities. The movable tables, chairs, planters and granite blocks help create a safer, expanded space for pedestrians while elevating the look and feel of this area. The capital build-out of the project is funded through New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which awarded the neighborhood $10 million.
The Parsons Boulevard corridor ranks in the top 10% of corridors boroughwide with crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries. From 2012-2016 the area was the site of 70 crashes with reported injuries, nearly 30 of which involved injuries to pedestrians, with four resulting in serious, life-changing injuries.
Recent counts show that more than 1,000 pedestrians per hour use this single block of Parsons Boulevard. The sidewalk extension creates additional space to enhance pedestrian safety and features treatments to improve the experience for all street users. These enhancements address community requests received during the public engagement process for the Downtown Jamaica Streetscape Plan, which was one of the centerpieces of the Jamaica Now! effort. Guided by the leadership, collaboration and insights from the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, the redesign reflected direct feedback about the poor pedestrian environment and lack of adequate pedestrian space, connections, seating and greenery at the location.
As part of the redesign, a new Commuter Van Hub has been created at 153rd Street. As with the former Parsons Boulevard location, the new designated commuter van stop is located directly next to a subway entrance and exit. The new 153rd Street location also increases the number of spaces available to commuter van operators and their passengers. On Parsons Boulevard, there were up to three spaces for authorized commuter van operations. The new curbside regulations on 153rd Street are designed to provide 6-10 spaces for authorized commuter vans.
Through a partnership between DOT and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, the project provides a vibrant space for community activities and events as well as offering amenities like tables, chairs and planters for residents, shoppers, workers, commuters and visitors to Downtown Jamaica.
Through New York State's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, this project (pdf) was selected to receive $2.5M in State funding for capital construction following numerous community engagement, visioning and other local stakeholder meetings. This critical funding, which adds to the $2M in City funds, will help build out these safety treatments and streetscape amenities in concrete and add important features such as upgraded lighting, trees and seating.
The project will reconstruct Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue to provide a welcoming gateway at this key transit hub that better connects local institutions and retail and that serves community needs.
“The redesign of the streetscape and the creation of the new public space at Parsons Boulevard at Jamaica and Archer Avenues will improve public safety while also making Downtown Jamaica a more desirable place to live, work and visit,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “These changes will help achieve the objectives of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, which is promoting the revitalization of Jamaica. Projects like this will help Jamaica become and remain a thriving residential and commercial neighborhood.”
“The redesign of Parsons Boulevard is a welcome enhancement, providing a public space while making street crossings safer for pedestrians,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “Thoughtful community input and public partnerships made this project possible. I commend DOT, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, and all the residents who engaged during this process to better our community. Now, one of the busiest thoroughfares to Downtown Jamaica won’t just serve to move people, it will bring them closer together.”
“I think anything that can be done to improve pedestrian safety while making the streets easier to navigate for motorists is a plus,” said Senator James Sanders Jr. “I look forward to watching the enhancements to this bustling hub improve life in the community, and I thank the DOT for making this worthy project possible.”
“Transforming Jamaica Center into an inviting downtown pedestrian space is a welcome improvement,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “The new streetscape on Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues that welcomes residents and visitors will further enhance the Jamaica revitalization efforts. Thank you NYC DOT for making this underserved community a priority.”
“The intersection at Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue is the main artery of our Jamaica community,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “These enhancements will help to stimulate the growth of this commercial hub while providing essential Vision Zero safety measures aimed at significantly reducing the loss of life and serious injury suffered by pedestrians and motorists at this location in past years. I thank DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and her Queens team - led by Borough Commissioner Garcia - for their partnership and thoughtful consideration of the complex dynamics involved in this undertaking, particularly with respect to our commuter van industry, whose success is vital to our residents. It will undoubtedly thrive at the new 153rd Street location in ways that would not be possible otherwise.”
"The opening of a new public space in Downtown Jamaica is another important milestone in the revitalization of this neighborhood. I have been glad to support Council Member Miller on this project, which will bring more events and programming, along with expanded sidewalk space, to Downtown Jamaica,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “Thank you to the Department of Transportation for constructing this new public space and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for serving as the maintenance partner.”
"As a resurgent retail base and growing business district draw thousands more people to the neighborhood, attractive public spaces are an important amenity," said Hope Knight, president & CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. "In addition to enhancing the pedestrian experience by beautifying the streetscape, this new space will give shoppers and visitors a chance to sit, stay longer and hopefully, support more area businesses. This would not be possible without funding from our government representatives and their ongoing commitment to Downtown Jamaica’s revitalization."
“The Parsons Blvd Public Space and the related infrastructure upgrades were a key component of the Jamaica NOW since the Plan’s genesis,” said Ian Harris, Co-Chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council. “The critical improvements along the main veins of Downtown Jamaica will enhance the area for both residents and visitors alike. They are, by design, products of community-driven public investment, and the Leadership Council is thrilled our vision is further coming to fruition.”
"I would like to thank the Elected Officials, the Borough President, DOT, Jamaica Now, and Greater Jamaica for the opening of the Pedestrian Plaza which is another enhancement to Jamaica Avenue,” said Yvonne Reddick, District Manager of Queens Community Board 12. “I would also like to thank the Van Operators for cooperating."
For more information about DOT’s safety improvement projects throughout the city, please visit www.nyc.gov/dot
About the Jamaica NOW Action Plan
The Jamaica NOW Action Plan is a $153 million dollar neighborhood revitalization initiative announced in 2015 by the de Blasio Administration, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The plan outlines a strategic path to economically revitalize Jamaica, Queens by providing workforce training and small business support, and improving the livability of the neighborhood through investments in safety measures, green spaces and more. The City’s investment in Jamaica has led to new housing, retail and commercial projects which, over the next five years, will result in approximately 3,000 new housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 800 hotel rooms. The Action Plan builds on this momentum and seeks to provide the most benefit to the community by placing an emphasis on economic opportunities, cultural amenities and supportive infrastructure. The plan is guided by the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council, a group of community leaders charged with implementation in partnership with the Administration and the Office of the Borough President.