Over the past six weeks you may have seen a friendly new face downtown working on behalf of our Business Improvement District. Alba M. came to us as a CUNY Service Corps student through an internship program designed to help New York City’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Building on CUNY’s history of service to New York City, the CUNY Service Corps creates opportunities for students, faculty, and staff at the university to work on projects that improve the City’s short and long-term civic, economic and environmental sustainability.
Over her six-week placement, Alba helped monitor and address streetscape and quality of life issues. She translated many of our business communications materials into Spanish, updated our downtown business directory and vacant storefront list, distributed information about new merchant safety programs and the proposed Jamaica Avenue busway to all of our storefronts, collected pedestrian counts, solicited public feedback on desired streetscape and beautification enhancements downtown, and undertook a comprehensive survey of all tree pits along our 30 block faces. Before she departed, our Executive Director, Jenn Furioli, took a moment to catch up with Alba about her experience:
Jenn: We’re so glad to have you here, Alba! Tell us why you wanted to participate in CUNY Service Corps? Alba:I wanted to do something with my time this summer and when the opportunity to work with CUNY Service Corps became available I jumped at the chance as way to get work experience and get to know New York City. What have you learned about Business Improvement Districts and the kind of work we do? Alba: Before I started this position, I didn’t know what BIDs were. Now when I walk down the street in my own neighborhood, I notice if someone is cleaning the street and look for their uniform. I try and figure out if other neighborhoods I visit have a BID. I notice things like the cleanliness of the street, or items that need to be reported to 311. Jenn: Yes, that’s an occupational hazard of working in our industry. One’s ability to walk down the street and not obsessively notice things like cleanliness, overflowing trashcans or items necessitating a 311 call is forever altered. I think you may end up being a BID Director in the future. But if that isn’t your chosen career path, what else interests you? Alba: I’d actually like to join the police force and become a detective.
Thanks, Alba, for your service to the Jamaica Avenue community! We were lucky to have you as part of our team, and we appreciate the attentive efforts Jahnavi Aluri, our BID’s program manager, who has mentored and supervised Alba during her time with us. Stay tuned for a Day in the BID Life of article featuring Jahnavi in an upcoming e-newsletter.
DOT Community Advisory Board - Jamaica and Archer Avenue Busways
On Wednesday, August 18 and Thursday, August 19, the NYC Department of Transportation will host in-person, outdoor, informational open houses in Downtown Jamaica to support outreach for the Jamaica and Archer Avenues Busway project. These meetings are open to the public and participation is encouraged. Please share this flyer amongst your networks.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Please contact the Queens Borough Commissioner’s office at 212.839.2510 or email [email protected] with any questions. To request accessibility accommodations, please contact the Queens Borough Commissioner’s office by Thursday, August 12, 2021.
Don’t Miss These Great Events!
Downtown is bustling with exciting events this month, starting this weekend when Cultural Collaborative Jamaica’sJAMS Fest returns to the Ave! JAMS will be celebrating its 25th anniversary kicking off with JAMS Under the Stars at Rufus King Park tonight (Friday 8/6) from 6-10pm. Tomorrow (Saturday, 8/7) 11am - 7pm, JAMS Fest begins with a 10-block open air festival with entertainment, music, shopping and more. Follow #jamaicafestival2021. Our team will be present soliciting community input on beautification desires for Jamaica Avenue with an opportunity to win a $50 gift card to a local restaurant—so be sure to stop by!
Meanwhile, King Manor Museum’s (153-03 Jamaica Avenue) Hands-on History month continues, with a focus on curiosity cabinets (miniature early museums of the 18th century that helped early Americans learn about nature and culture). Join King Manor Museum in the making of your own curiosity cabinet. Learn more and register here.
Speaking of live performances, we were pleased to sponsor and be in attendance at JCAL’s most recent Mic Drop last Friday which featured tap dancer and instructor, Omar Edwards and Carlos Noel, David Sincere Aikenand Lyle Omolayo at Parsons Public Space. Don’t miss the next Mic Drop which will take place on August 27.
We are happy to welcome the new coffee shop The Avenue Café NYC to Jamaica Avenue! The coffee shop is located inside Jamaica Market (90-40 160th Street). They have all that you need from Stumptown Coffee, teas and fresh pastries including the Nutella Dream Cruffin and Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breaktarts. We caught up with the owner Stephen Kanhai to speak to him about his new place:
Tell us what made you want to open The Avenue Café NYC? I grew up and currently live in Jamaica, Queens. I truly believe in the concept of “Bloom where you are planted.” I really love cafes where it’s not just another business in the community, it actually becomes part of the fabric of the community. Community is important to me!
Is Avenue Café NYC a family business? The Cafe is a family business. My wife and I have been dreaming of opening one for years!
What’s a little-known fact about yourself? I love farming and growing produce.
What’s your favorite business on Jamaica Avenue? Two businesses come to mind. Alexis Caribbean (In Unique Food Court) and Jamaican Flavors.
What business would you want to see on Jamaica Avenue? I would love to see a sporting good store or a bookstore!
How can people help or learn more about your business? People can help by becoming customers and trying our delicious offerings! You can learn more about our business on social media. Follow us on Instagramand Facebook@theavenuecafenyc!
We are grateful to our supporters who make our work possible
NYC Department of Small Business Services: Avenue NYC Grant, Strategic Impact Grant, and Support for Revitalization of the Jamaica Avenue Clock
Council Member I. Daneek Miller (District 27): Support for Revitalization of the Jamaica Avenue Clock
JFKIAT and Partners (4GOOD Community Philanthropic Program): Programmatic Support for FY22
City Council District 24: Tree Pit Revitalization Support
Office of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards: General Operating and Programmatic Support
Additional In-Kind Support, Friends, and/or All-Around Helpful Partners and Colleagues Making Jamaica Great. We Appreciate YOU!
Home Depot-Support of Parsons Clean Up
Mattone Investors-Support of Parsons Clean Up
Golden Krust, Popeye’s and Dunkin at Parsons Public Space-Support of Parsons Clean Up
SEQ Clean UP-Multiple Downtown Clean Up Initiatives
Cambria Heights Florist-Support of Parsons Clean Up
Lindon Studios-Support of Parsons Clean Up
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation
Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning
York College and the SBDC
Queens Chamber of Commerce
King Manor Museum
Cultural Collaborative Jamaica
A Better Jamaica
Our World Media
Sutphin Boulevard BID
165th Street BID
Where’s the Jamaica Center Clock?! Don’t panic. The clock is in good hands :)
Don’t panic. The famous Jamaica Center clock is in good hands! Thanks to generous support from Council Member I. Daneek Miller, NYC Small Business Services; Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, our BID and Save America's Clocks have teamed up to restore this historic landmark street clock back to its former glory! We’ll have updates as we move forward but we’re hoping the clock will be back up sometime in the summer! For Additional Information visit the full NY Times article on the clock's history and renovation here. See the below photos from last Thursday's removal of the clock and view the Instagram story here!
Jamaica Avenue: Not Just Surviving…But Thriving!
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.