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Jamaica, Queens: What to do, see, eat and more in NYC's next affordable frontier

It's time for Jamaica to have its moment in the spotlight.

Located just 15 minutes from midtown, the south Queens nabe is becoming a desirable option for those in need of convenience and affordability but are being priced out of nabes like Williamsburg, Astoria and Long Island City.

Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

"A lot of people, especially young couples, are buying homes in Jamaica right now," said Badrul Chodhury, an agent with Charles Rutenberg Real Estate who formerly owned Liberty Pizza on Liberty Avenue. He said he's watched the neighborhood transform over the years.

"The demand is high, especially near Hillside Avenue," he said. "The area has cleaned up a lot and it's been great for the community."

Crime rates in Jamaica are dropping - they fell 15% in the last 15 years, according to the local precinct's CompStat report - and the area is well-situated. It is home to the Long Island Railroad's massive Jamaica Station and is a stop on the AirTrain to JFK Airport.

The area's diverse cultures are also a draw,
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The area's diverse cultures are also a draw, locals said. Once predominantly African-American, today it is also home to Hispanic, Indian, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan residents, among others. Their influences are apparent at local markets and restaurants.

"There is a really large Asian community in Jamaica," explained Bangladeshi resident Afjal Hussain, 37. "You feel like you can walk down the street and see familiar faces and go to stores carrying products from back home."

But Hussain - who is raising two children
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

But Hussain - who is raising two children in Jamaica - admits there is room for improvement.

"There are a lot of families with kids which is great but the schools need work," he said.

Jamaica's infrastructure, cleanliness and other maintenance could also use attention, he griped.

"Up until a few months ago, there weren't even garbage cans on the street," he said. "There are good and bad things about living in Jamaica, just like anywhere else."

Finding Jamaica

Jamaica is bordered to the north by Hillside
Photo Credit: Google maps

Jamaica is bordered to the north by Hillside Avenue and to the south by Archer and 93rd avenues, according to StreetEasy. It is bound to the west by the Van Wyck Expressway and to the east by 180th Street.

The basics

Transportation: Trains: -- Jamaica Station (LIRR) -- AirTrain
Photo Credit: Getty Images



-- Jamaica Station (LIRR)

-- AirTrain to JFK Airport

-- F to Sutphin Boulevard, Parsons Boulevard, 169th Street and Jamaica-179th Street

-- E, J and Z to Archer Avenue/Sutphin Boulevard and Jamaica Center


-- Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, Q8, Q9, Q9A, Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q25, Q30, Q31, Q34, Q36, Q40, Q41, Q42, Q43, Q44, Q54, Q56, Q60, Q65, Q75, Q76, Q77, Q83, Q84, Q85, Q110, Q111, Q112, Q113, Q114

-- N1, N4, Nx4, N6, N22, N24, N26 x68


QPL Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., QPL Baisley Park Branch, 117-11 Sutphin Blvd., QPL South Jamaica Branch, 108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.

Post Office:

USPS, 88-10 164th St.


Jamaica is part of the 103rd Precinct, located at 168-02 P.O. Edward Byrne Ave. In its CompStat report for the week of Sept. 14-20, the precinct reported one rape, six robberies and four burglaries. The precinct reported two murders and 18 rapes so far in 2015 as of Sept. 20.

Celebs born in Jamaica:

50 Cent

Jimmy Breslin

Mario Cuomo

Rocco DiSpirito

Debi Mazar

Lamar Odom

Russell Simmons

Donald Trump

Jamaica real eastate

To rent 180-09 Jamaica Ave. #2B Three beds,
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

To rent

180-09 Jamaica Ave. #2B Three beds, one bath; $1, 749 per month

88-40 144th St. #B4 Two beds, one bath; $1,900 per month

88-40 144th St. #B1 One bed, one bath; $1,500 per month

To buy

143-20 91st Ave. Eight beds, two baths; $675,000

110-50 176th St. Three beds, two baths; $360,000

168-10 89th Ave. #10A One bed, one bath; $120,000

2015 Jamaica Market data as of sept. 29

Median sales price: $451,500

Number of units on market: 48

Median rental price: $1,750

Number of rentals on market: 53

Where to eat in Jamaica

-- Spicy Lanka, 159-23 Hillside Ave. A Sri
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

-- Spicy Lanka, 159-23 Hillside Ave.

A Sri Lankan eatery serving traditional dishes including pittu and a selection of curries. 718-487-4499

-- CityRib , 89-04 Parsons Blvd. One of the newer additions to the Jamaica dining scene, this restaurant is known for large portions of flavorful BBQ.

-- El Rey Bar & Restaurant, 147-13 Hillside Ave.

This bistro features Latin American fare including Mofongo with Shrimp and Arroz Con Pollo and a small back bar to watch sports. 718-206-0614

To do

-- Taste the Caribbean at Sybil's Bakery, 159-24
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

-- Taste the Caribbean at Sybil's Bakery, 159-24 Hillside Ave.

A neighborhood staple, head here to sample Guyanese beef patties, cassava pone and fish fry. 718-297-2359

-- King Manor Museum/Rufus King Park, 89th Avenue between 150th and 153th streets.

Once the home of Revolutionary War soldier and lawyer Rufus King, the park offers green space, playgrounds and free Wi-Fi. It is also home to the King Manor Museum, highlighting King?s work in the anti-slavery movement.

-- Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, 153-10 Jamaica Ave.

Showcasing both visual and performing arts, this arts center plays host to a variety of cultural events.

To party

-- Maloney's, 87-67 Sutphin Blvd. A traditional, no-frills
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

-- Maloney's, 87-67 Sutphin Blvd.

A traditional, no-frills Irish pub where patrons can sip on boozy beverages and eat takeout from local eateries. 718-526-8800

-- O Lavrador Restaurant & Bar, 138-40 101 Ave.
Guests come for the Portuguese and Spanish fare and stay for the daily Happy Hour specials.

-- H2O Lounge, 153-33 Hillside Ave.

Enjoy a hookah, fishbowl-sized cocktails, weekend dance parties and special events at this local nightclub.

To shop

-- Jamaica Farmers' Market, 160th Street and Jamaica
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

-- Jamaica Farmers' Market, 160th Street and Jamaica Avenue

This weekly farmer's market is held every Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 21.

-- Shops along Jamaica Avenue, between 159th and 168th streets

Locals head to this main thoroughfare for the big-name retailers including Marshall's, Payless, Raymour and Flanigan, Old Navy, Foot Locker and Nine West.

-- Corner Fish Market, 9102 Sutphin Blvd.

Head here for crates filled with live crabs and a delicious selection of fresh fish. 718-523-6001

Buzz: Jamaica is getting a major facelift, thanks to a handful of new developments.

Among the first signs of revitalization was the
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Among the first signs of revitalization was the opening of Moda, a luxury residence at 153-50 89th Ave., built in 2012. It is LEED-certified and has the popular CityRib restaurant on its ground floor.

Another new development in the area is the Norman Towers mixed-use development complex, built in the summer of 2014 on 190th and 191th streets.

Construction will soon begin in on the Crossing at Jamaica Station, a mixed-use development at the corner of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard right next to the train stop.

Nearby, a Hilton Garden Inn, Marriott Courtyard and Fairfield Inn and Suites are planned, which locals said will bring employment opportunities for area residents.

"There are so many unique and desirable changes happening in the community right now," Jamaica-based real estate agent Badrul Chowdhury said. "The new construction is going to continue to make things better -- the stores, hotels and restaurants will create jobs -- and it's all benefitting the community."

Q&A with Peter Frouw: Co-owner of Bellitte Bicycles

If anyone knows Jamaica and its changing landscape,
Photo Credit: Google maps

If anyone knows Jamaica and its changing landscape, it's 54-year old Peter Frouws. His family has operated Bellitte Bicycles -- the oldest continuously owned bike store in the United States, originally opened as a bicycle, motorcycle and radio repair shop by family patriarch and Sicilian immigrant Salvatore "Sam" Bellitte -- since 1918, in the same location on Jamaica Avenue, formerly known as Fulton Street. Peter mans the front of the shop, located at 169-20 Jamaica Ave., along with his son Matthew.

What do you like best about Jamaica?

It's constantly changing. Jamaica is the last frontier of NYC, the last area to develop. After 9/11, a lot changed, there were [run-down] Federal Buildings in the area and they were redeveloped. Ever since Home Depot opened here [in 2007], a lot of new businesses have moved to the neighborhood. It?s exciting!

What are your favorite memories of Jamaica?

The people, our customers; we have always enjoyed a great reception from the community and there are people who have been coming to buy bikes from us for generations. They are grateful to us for being here; they support us and don?t want us to leave. So we won't.

What is the neighborhood missing?

We need more bars and restaurants, but I think that's coming. I think Jamaica also needs more residential development. There are a lot of young families coming to live here, but more living options would bring even more people.

Are you a bike rider yourself?

I definitely practice what I preach. I ride about 125 miles per week, and have even lost 20 pounds doing it.


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