Sponsored: Metropolitan Park proposal wins kudos from local business owners

metropolitan park
Alex Vithoulakis, owner of Liberty Bagels at 82-10 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, praised the Metropolitan Park proposal.
Photo courtesy of Alex Vithoulakis/ Liberty Bagels

It is still in the proposal stage, but Metropolitan Park, the $8 billion transformation of 50 acres of asphalt around Citi Field into a sports and entertainment park, already has a vote of approval from nearby business owners.

Photo courtesy of Queens Future LLC

In fact, more than 100 local Queens restaurants and businesses have signed up for Metropolitan Park’s CommUNITY Passport program, which, if the proposal is approved, will allow guests at the Hard Rock International to use reward points at local participating restaurants and businesses across Queens.

Spearheaded by Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International, Metropolitan Park will add 20 acres of new park space, a live music venue, sportsbook, restaurants, renovated and accessible mass transit station and 15,000 new jobs. “The community made it clear that any
development must work with, support and help grow local businesses and restaurants, and we listened,” said Cohen.

That is a sentiment that appeals to most owners of nearby restaurants or businesses. They will tell you that the proposed plan is a much needed improvement for the area. We spoke to a few of them:

Alex Vithoulakis has been in business in Queens since 2021. “The stadiums are great but the jobs are seasonal at the moment,” he said. “Metropolitan Park will provide jobs 24/7.”

Liberty Bagels owner Alex Vithoulakis. Photo courtesy of Alex Vithoulakis/ Liberty Bagels

Vithoulakis said the beautiful parks, access to the waterfront, increased safety, transportation, the overall infrastructure, is going to improve the quality of life in the area. “This will create an economic engine in the community and it is direly needed. Better infrastructure will create better safety, transportation and a community based economic engine.”

And it will help his own business too. Mets games or the U.S. open creates a huge influx of business. “This will now be 24/7. When nothing is happening, my numbers go down. This is a game changer for our business, it is a no brainer — for us and the entire community.”

The benefits to these business owners and nearly 100 others from the CommUNITY Passport program would play out at the Hard Rock in the following ways:

● Encourage and enable hotel and entertainment guests to use reward points at partnering small businesses and restaurants across Queens.

● Feature partnering small businesses in a “Queens Guide” made available to all guests of the hotel.

● Offer partnering small businesses free marketing and promotional materials, including signage, to advertise participation in the program.

● Provide partnering businesses with a device or software to accept points as payment.

● Reimburse partners for the amount of charges paid with points.

Metropolitan Park snapshot:

● An investment of $8 billion.

● 15,000 good-paying permanent and construction jobs.

● 20 acres of new park space and 5 acres of community athletic fields and playgrounds.

● Climate-ready infrastructure, including solar, green roofs and flood mitigation.

● Entertainment complex with a Hard Rock hotel, live music venue and gaming.

● New connections to the waterfront, park and surrounding community.

● Taste of Queens Food Hall.

● Accessible and renovated mass transit station.

● Improved and modernized road network, bike paths and parking infrastructure.

For more information, or to lend your support, check out the Metropolitan Park website.