New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia was joined today by New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Deputy Commissioner for Infrastructure Eric Macfarlane, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), The Queens Museum, and Community Board 4 to celebrate the groundbreaking of capital construction of the newly designed Corona Plaza.
“I am certain that upon its completion, Corona Plaza will be a vital asset to this community, allowing residents and visitors alike to enjoy this enhanced public space and its amenities,” said NYC DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. “We often say plazas are like a living room for the community, and I want to thank all parties involved for their commitment to bring a vibrant an energetic public space that is a reflection of this Corona community”
“Our work at Corona Plaza will transform the space into a vibrant and sustainable neighborhood hub, complete with green spaces and a public performance area,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “The new plaza will offer streamlined routes to nearby transit lines, improving pedestrian safety, and will serve the community as a gathering place for generations to come.”
Situated at busy crossroads in Corona, the plaza connects major commerce along Roosevelt Avenue with the 103rd Street stop on the elevated MTA 7 line, as well as the Q23 bus and a taxi stand. Originally built on an interim basis in 2012, Corona Plaza replaced the Roosevelt Avenue service road that had been dominated by traffic and parking. The new open space became immediately popular with local residents, hosting popular cultural and civic events, and also reduced pedestrian and vehicle conflicts in the area.
“Corona Plaza is much more than a public plaza. Here we see families engaging in civic life and small businesses expanding their reach. It’s a vibrant example of all our community has to offer,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “I’m very proud of the work our partners are doing to bring valuable programming here each day, and I thank the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction for their collaboration. I look forward to starting construction and reopening it to be even better than it is.”
As part of the capital construction, Corona Plaza will be built out by DDC in stone and concrete, adding a new performance space with built-in seating. New plantings, including trees and shrubs, will better integrate the space with the adjacent parkland. Once completed, the plaza will also include new pedestrian lighting, a drinking fountain, power supply for performances, WalkNYC wayfinding, bike racks to serve commuters, an automatic pay toilet, and a mixture of fixed and movable furniture.
"Integrating public spaces by extending urban settings provide areas with their very own personality and charm. In this case, this particular area of Corona will step into the 21st century with a functional and attractive new design, making it, undoubtedly, more pedestrian-friendly. I want to thank all those involved in the efforts to modernize this busy and popular plaza” said State Senator Jose Peralta.
The plaza will be maintained by the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), who applied for round four of the Plaza Program in 2011. Maintenance and technical assistance services are provided to QEDC by the Neighborhood Plaza Program and is funded by NYCDOT’s One NYC Plaza Equity Program. Through this program, the plaza will receive daily cleaning and horticultural care and QEDC will receive assistance with plaza operations. The plaza is scheduled to be fully implemented by spring 2018 and cost around $5.6 million. DOT has also partnered with the Queens Museum to bring programming to the newly transformed space.
The NYC DOT Plaza Program works with selected organizations to create neighborhood plazas throughout the City to transform underused streets into vibrant, social public spaces. With community input through public visioning workshops, DOT and its partners draft a vision for each plaza that complements the architecture, culture, and history of the surrounding neighborhood. For capital projects, such as Corona Plaza, DOT works with DDC and professional design teams, including landscape architects and engineers, to synthesize the conceptual designs and community comments through a collaborative design process. DOT held multiple community engagement workshops for both the interim plaza, and capital project designs. Events held in the plaza hosted by DOT and its partners have also played a role in gathering feedback from the community.
“Corona Plaza exemplifies the value of great public spaces to a local community. It's a result of strong local partnerships and we can only expect greater things to happen when construction is completed on Phase two, which will incorporate good urban design techniques and bring new amenities to the site,” said Ricardi Calixte, Deputy Director, Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“After more than a decade of presenting artistic programming in Corona Plaza, we are excited at the prospects of this new public space, and the unseen ways in which the community will enjoy it,” said David Strauss, Deputy Director of the Queens Museum. “We are inspired by the collaboration between the City, community, and nonprofit partners who made this possible and are fortunate to have played our part.”
“Even in its temporary form, Corona Plaza has been a star model of DOT’s innovative design for high-quality public space that builds social capital among local organizations, residents, and elected officials in areas of great need. We are pleased to have played a role in this Plaza’s success and look forward to continuing our year-round sanitation and horticulture services and strengthening the capacity of the impressive community of stewards,” said Sara Hobel, Executive Director of The Horticultural Society of New York.” The Hort’s Neighborhood Plaza Program works with ACE New York to provide maintenance services at 14 DOT Plazas citywide via the OneNYC Plaza Equity Program.
“In 2012, Corona Plaza organizers warmly welcomed ACE program participants into their community and gave them an opportunity to gain work experience through cleaning and maintaining the Plaza. Since then, Corona Plaza has been the source of vital work experience that has led to hundreds of New Yorkers overcoming homelessness and achieving their goals of economic self-sufficiency,” said Jim Martin, Executive Director, ACE – The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless. “We are thankful and proud to have joined in the effort to maintain Corona Plaza, and we look forward to keeping it clean and beautiful in its newest form.”
“Public Health Solutions is pleased to see the revitalization of Corona Plaza moving forward. The Plaza is a key public space that helps promote wellness and social capital in this community. Many of the families we serve in our office located at Corona Plaza congregate here with their children. The new design will go above and beyond in supporting a safe and healthy built environment in Corona,” said Lisa David, CEO of Public Health Solutions.
“We are grateful to the Corona community for hosting us these past 9 seasons and look forward to a beautiful new home at Corona Plaza to continue to serve the residents of Corona for years to come,” said GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz. “We sincerely thank Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Community Board 4Q, Queens EDC, DOT and all of our other partners for making this market possible.”
“New York Community Bank’s Queens County Savings Division has been a part of the local landscape for over 150 years. We are committed to the community and are proud to support and celebrate the Groundbreaking of The Corona Plaza,” said Kelly Leung, SVP Corporate Communications, New York Community Bank.
“In this time of high tech communication, we are discovering more and more that people need to see, to talk to their neighbors,” said Marian Conway, Ph.D., Executive Director of NY Community Bank Foundation. “We are confident that this Heart of the Community will become a gathering place and a true oasis for Corona.”
The NYC DOT Plaza Program, which began in 2008 now has 73 plazas citywide, including 13 in Queens, and is a key part of the City's effort to ensure that all New Yorkers live within walking distance of quality open space. NYCDOT is currently accepting applications until Friday, June 30th for Round 10 of the NYC Plaza Program. For more information about the NYC Plaza Program, and for program guidelines, visit www.nyc.gov/plazas.