Officials break ground on permanent Corona Plaza while DOT begins work on 111th Street

Officials break ground on permanent Corona Plaza while DOT begins work on 111th Street
Courtesy of NYCDOT
By Bill Parry

Corona Plaza will be closed to the public, and the vendors who do business there, for a year as it undergoes a $5.6 million renovation that will turn the temporary pedestrian plaza into a permanent gathering space. When the construction project is complete at 103rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona Plaza will feature a new performance space with built-in seating, new plantings with trees and shrubbery, new pedestrian lighting, bike racks to serve commuters using the No. 7 subway station, and an automatic pay toilet.

“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,” city Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said Monday at a ground-breaking ceremony. “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 and energetic public space that is a reflection of this Corona community.”

The plaza is already fenced in for the construction project. In order to keep the sidewalk space clear for pedestrians coming and going from the No. 7 subway station, there is no longer space available for vendors to ply their trade.

“I’m sure the vendors will go to other parts of the neighborhood,” City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) said. “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.”

The plaza will be maintained by the Queens Economic Development Corporation, who applied for the Plaza Program in 2011. The Queens Museum has been presenting artistic programming in Corona Plaza for more than a decade.

“We are excited at the prospects of this new public space, and the unseen ways in which the communities will enjoy it,” Queens Museum Deputy Director David Strauss said. “While the plaza is under construction, we’re going to continue programming in the community whether it’s across the street, up the block or in other parks, because the community has a hunger for it and we want to meet that.”

While the ground-breaking was taking place, the DOT began implementing its safety improvement plan on 111th Street. Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to move the project forward after Community Board 4 voted to table the plan last month, demanding more safety measures such as stop signs and traffic lights.

Contractors for the DOT began marking the street near Terrace on the Park where pedestrian islands will cut the pedestrian crossings in half from the current 94 feet. A two-way protected bike line will be constructed in about two months time, according to the Queens Borough Commissioner.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.