The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated retail across the city and nation, but downtown Jamaica serves as a beacon of hope as new businesses, independent and national, continue to open on the Avenue.
Most recently we welcomed the long-awaited Target, located in the lower-level of (160-08 Jamaica Avenue), just below Burlington. Here you’ll find a nice selection of groceries (plenty of organics too!), games, cute lamps, general home goods and a new CVS pharmacy.
Just a couple blocks east at the corner of Union Hall and Jamaica Avenue is another newcomer—Jamaican Flavors (162-02 Jamaica Avenue), selling patties, coco bread and some delectable looking desserts (look for the blue awning). Of course our team is eagerly awaiting the opening of Jollibee (skip to our article below to read our detective work regarding what we can expect when the Jamaica Avenue location finally opens).
You can view coverage of the ribbon-cutting parade hereand hereand view the photos of the event here. Special thanks to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards from coming out to our special event along with Council Members Adrienne Adams, I. Daneek Miller, and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman.
We are excited to kickoff our ‘I Love Jamaica Ave’ campaign where each day of February we will feature a profile on a well-known person in downtown Jamaica and Southeast Queens. This campaign aims to show love to downtown Jamaica for the businesses, culture and history of our great community. Below are each of the profiles we have done this month. Please visit the link on the photo to visit our Instagram account to read up daily on each of our featured profiles.
In Honor of Black History Month
February is Black History Month. Here are a handful of ways you can support our Black businesses and cultural community and honor their contributions and legacy right here in downtown Jamaica:
Promote Black-owned businesses: Share social media posts from Black-owned businesses and help to crowdsource location info on local Black-owned businesses so other customers can discover them too. We’ve noticed downtown Jamaica isn’t getting as much love as it deserves in citywide platforms. So for starters, consider nominating your favorite Jamaica Ave Black-owned businesses to appearon this City-wide list by emailing [email protected].
The calendar has flipped to 2021 and as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, we are asking our readers to resolve to support their local businesses. Now, more than ever, it’s important to adapt the “I Love Jamaica Avenue” mindset and help local retail survive. Local shopping creates local jobs and activates our local streets. Invest in downtown Jamaica. Here’s a few tangible suggestions for you:
Make purchases locally instead of ordering from online warehouses outside of your community. This ensures that jobs and valuable services remain close to home.
Write a positive review on Yelp, Google, Facebook or other public forums for your three favorite businesses.
Open Storefronts Have Been Extended Through September 30, 2021
The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis. The program allows eligible businesses to conduct activity on sidewalks, on roadways in the Open Streets: Restaurants program, or a combination of both. In addition to businesses engaged in retail trade, repair stores, personal care services, and dry-cleaning and laundry services are able to use outdoor space for seating, queuing, or display of dry goods. The program also allows businesses to sell pre-packaged food on sidewalks and restaurants to use sidewalks for take-out orders. For a list of eligible retail activities, please visit Open Storefronts FAQ 2.
The Open Storefronts program extended through September 30, 2021.
Jamaica Center Cleans Up For The Holidays
Did you know that our organization removes litter, stickers, bills and graffiti from Jamaica Avenue seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.? Our regular sanitation services keep Jamaica Avenue clean, but we have long been aware that the side streets leading to Jamaica Avenue are in need of some TLC, as these roadways serve as a common artery to our shopping district and are often the first impression visitors receive when approaching our main shopping corridor. That’s why last weekend our BID partnered with local community group SEQ Cleanup for a pop-up Clean-Up event to remove litter from 161st – 162nd Street between Jamaica Avenue and 89th Avenue.
In a collaborative effort to keep our downtown clean and our walkways clear and in compliance with City code, the Jamaica Center BID, Sutphin Boulevard BID and the 165th Street BID, along with Council Member I. Daneek Miller and his staff conducted a Business Educational Outreach Day on Tuesday with two community outreach representatives from NYC’s Department of Sanitation. Businesses were provided information about the City’s new Open Storefronts Initiative, reminded of their responsibilities to keep the area in front of their storefront clean and were able to ask any sanitation-related questions to the DSNY team.
This Halloween Saturday we have a fun promotion that’s no tricks, just all treats! Shop or dine at any business in the Jamaica Avenue BID* and YOU just might be one of five lucky winners handed a Jamaica Avenue Halloween Goodie Bag packed with fun surprises and a $25 gift card redeemable at all stores accepting credit cards within our BID boundaries. 2020 has been a pretty frightening year for our business community, with foot traffic down to unimaginable numbers due to the pandemic. Please support Jamaica Avenue’s bricks and mortar businesses and remind your friends to do the same by hashtagging #ILoveJamaicaAvenue and #ShopJamaicaAvenue whenever you shop downtown.
On Wednesday, our BID and our Clean Team removed approximately 150 bags of trash illegally dumped in two different locations on the Avenue. Next time you see our organization’s sanitation workers please give them thanks for their hard work!
We already sweep and remove tens of thousands of bags of trash from our corridor annually as part of our seven-day-per-week cleaning. We will continue to monitor the Jamaica Avenue business corridor, and whenever we see an abundance of trash throughout the district, we will notify our Clean Team as soon as possible to take care of it.
Businesses, please remember that you are required to use a private carter for all of your commercial trash and that fines apply for those that do not follow City regulations on this matter.
Jamaica Avenue Falls in the Yellow Cluster: What this Means for Business
If you haven't heard, precautionary measures have been put into place to stop the spread of COVID in hot spots throughout NYC per Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. Jamaica has been designated as a Yellow Zone — Precautionary Zone which means the following:
Businesses: All businesses may remain open but must follow COVID-19 requirements for their sector.
Food Service Establishments: Indoor and outdoor dining is allowed. There is a four-person maximum per table.
Schools: All New York City public schools and nonpublic schools may remain open.
Houses of Worship: Houses of worship may remain open at 50% maximum capacity.
Gatherings: Non-essential gatherings must be limited to 25 people maximum for both indoor and outdoor settings. Any individual who encourages, promotes or organizes mass gatherings may be fined up to $15,000/day
We encourage all businesses to read up on the zones and the different guidelines you will have to follow if we are elevated to orange or red here. NOW is the time to prepare. Sign up for our BID’s emergency cell phone alert system JBID-Alerts! so that we can reach out to you if our zone or regulations change (see next article for more info).
Next, enter NYC’s Department of Small Business Service’s business hotline into your phone—you can call them for assistance regarding closing, reopening and compliance guidelines: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692). You should also visit NYC’s Department of Small Business Service’s webpage for a variety of resources and news regarding coronavirus business support (PPE Marketplace, info on reopening rules and regulations, etc., list of financing resources, and so on.)
Queens Youth Justice Center (QYJC) Partnership We are excited to announce a new partnership with one of our neighborhood nonprofits, the Queens Youth Justice Center to remove litter from our downtown. Every Saturday, starting this month, youth enrolled in workforce development programming at the Justice Center will help sweep litter from north-south cross streets bisecting Jamaica Avenue between Sutphin Boulevard and 169th Street. The youth will also remove litter from a portion of Archer Avenue. Litter collected by the youth will then be transported out of the district by our own Jamaica Center BID Clean Team (which cleans Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to 169th Street seven days a week.) The partnership is expected to provide an additional 2,430 hours of community benefit services to Jamaica’s downtown over the next three years. You can read our jointpress release with QYJC here.
Downtown Jamaica Storefront Improvement Grant Applications
We are happy to share that the Department of Small Business Services' phase 2 of the Downtown Jamaica Storefront Improvement Grant applications are now open. If you are a small business or property owner in the Downtown Jamaica area who is interested in this grant opportunity, please visit the Downtown Jamaica Storefront Improvement Application & Guidelinespages.
You can find more information about the program on the SBS website here.
If interested, please direct all questions to [email protected]. The deadline for this grant opportunity is September 30.