Jamaica has long been ripe for a revival. The most prominent retailers in the once-bustling southern Queens neighborhood are 99-cent stores, bargain beauty salons and dusty no-name apparel discounters.
National chains—from Starbucks to Victoria's Secret—have long shunned the one-square-mile area despite its status as one of the city's biggest transportation hubs—featuring the terminus of the AirTrain to JFK and a major transfer station for the Long Island Rail Road, not to mention four subway lines and a half-dozen bus lines.
The problem is that very few of those hundreds of thousands of people who pass through daily stick around. That gives retailers little incentive to open up shop—and in turn forces the area's 643,000 residents to take their shopping and dining elsewhere, typically to places on Long Island.
"We don't need more beauty supplies and nail salons and fast food," said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Jamaica's Community Board 12. "We need quality stores that are going to draw people in to shop."
Surprisingly, that need may yet be met.
And then yada, yada, yada, Jamaica is the next big thing, just as they have been saying for the past 20 years. Wake me up when there's something worth visiting there.