With Support From Local Businesses, Corona Ped Plaza Will Debut in July

Under a DOT plan passed with support from local business, Queens Community Board 4, and City Council Member Julissa Ferreras, a block of the service road next to Corona Plaza will be pedestrianized. Image: ##http://www.qchron.com/editions/western/corona-plaza-will-open-temp-in-july/article_f256b1f5-f6c7-5274-8184-103e9bc25d80.html##NYC DOT##

The crowded streets of Corona, Queens will receive a welcome infusion of public space this July, thanks to the New York City Department of Transportation’s plaza program. With wide-ranging community support, DOT will close a block of  service road between National Street and 104th Street to traffic and fill it with plants, tables, chairs and bike racks [PDF].

Corona Plaza is already a popular neighborhood space; the area is used for holiday gatherings and a weekly greenmarket. But it lacks basic amenities like public seating, and an existing strip of parkland is cut off from local shops by the service road. Local merchants — sometimes a skeptical constituency when it comes to pedestrian plazas — believe the plaza will be a boon for business. Corona CAN, a volunteer network of local business owners, has written in support of the plaza, and its members have convinced the larger Queens Economic Development Corporation to formally sponsor and maintain the new space.

Right now, parking spaces are taken up by moving trucks, not business customers. Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2012-06-07-corona-plaza.pdf##NYC DOT##

“This plaza is the heart of Corona and the engine of Roosevelt Avenue,” said Ricardi Calixte, neighborhood development director at Queens EDC. “This will get people to actually hang around the area more, frequent the businesses more. It’s going to bring so many more people to the plaza that the businesses will gain more from all the business they bring than they lose from a few parking spaces.”

Support for the pedestrianization plan came from across the community. Community Board 4 voted unanimously in support of the proposal at a meeting last Tuesday, according to the Queens Chronicle.

City Council Member Julissa Ferreras is also a supporter. “It’s so we have a nice place to sit and a place to be proud of,” Ferreras told the Chronicle.

The Queens Museum of Art, which testified in favor of the plaza at the City Council last year, will provide programming for the new space.

In Corona, losing a few parking spaces didn’t concern the business community. “Right now, the parking spaces are not really being used by customers of local businesses,” explained Calixte. Many of the angled spaces are filled by large moving trucks, which Calixte argued actually hurt merchants. “When these trucks are parked in the plaza, they pretty much block the view of all the businesses in the plaza,” he said.

Construction on the plaza should start with temporary materials mid-July, taking a week to complete. DOT will come back to community members later this year to assess how the pedestrian plaza is functions. If everyone likes what they see, a permanent design for the plaza will follow, with construction perhaps taking place in fall 2013 or spring 2014. Calixte said he’s already looking forward to weighing in on the long-term design of the space. “We expect this plaza to succeed.”

[Editor’s note: This post originally stated that the new pedestrian plaza would be located on a block of 41st Avenue. The site is actually a service road for Roosevelt Avenue. The post has been amended.]

  • IsaacB

    Don’t take this for granted as “smooth sailing”. If moving trucks have called this street “home”, their operator can be expected to make a fuss and to enlist other stakeholders who will claim that they were manipulated and fooled, that there was not enough input, that jobs will be lost, etc. Don’t be surprised if current supporters reverse their point of view, once they’ve been “enlightened”.

  • J

    First, this is great news, and it’s great to see merchants get behind the basics of successful business in NYC, which are visibility and foot traffic.

    Also, it looks like the street to be pedestrianized is a service road for Roosevelt Ave, not 41st Ave, which is a block south. Google maps labels the street as 41st Ave, but the official CityMap says Roosevelt Ave. The DOT presentation mainly says Roosevelt, but it says 41st Ave at least once. This is pretty important, and should be clarified/corrected.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Despite IsaacB’s point about push-back, I’m happy to see this project moving ahead. As we remake our city for all, one neighborhood after the next, these pedestrian plazas will help every person enjoy our city. Whether we drive, bike, or ride, we are all pedestrians, and we all deserve space in our neighborhoods.

  • IsaacB

    Ben: To be clear. I don’t oppose the plaza and am not predicting failure either. Just giving the organizers a “heads-up” to not underestimate the power of any stakeholder (like the moving trucks), regardless of how irrational their presence on the plaza seems to be.

  • Rick C.

    There was an error in the location stated. The service road of Roosevelt Ave. will be the site of the pedestrian plaza, not 41st Ave.
     

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