Elected and city officials broke ground on plaza improvements on Monday morning. Fences will close off the area until spring 2018, when work is slated for completion.
Once finished, Corona Plaza will have a new performance space and seating, electrical infrastructure, new pedestrian lighting, bike racks, replaced sewers and repaired sidewalks.
“It’s a key part of the city’s effort to ensure that residents live within walking distance of a quality outdoor space,” said Queens Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Nicole Garcia. “While those are important streetscape elements that instantly elevate the look, feel and use of a street, it’s the day-to-day maintenance and thoughtful, year-round programming that really made Corona Plaza the success that it is.”
Organizations like the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) and the Horticultural Society of New York have provided sanitation services to the 32,000-square-foot public space, Garcia said.
The Queens Museum will continue to provide cultural programming for area residents.
Located directly under the 7 train station, Corona Plaza sits at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 103rd Street. Officials said they first tested out the concept of turning the service road into a plaza in 2012, and residents have responded positively.
“Now, on any given weekend or evening, you know that this belongs to the community,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “The hardest part of this is that we’re going to lose it for a little bit, but people understand that we needed this break so we can get the permanency and beauty and to finally have a Corona Plaza that we all envision.”
Ferreras-Copeland said despite the constant rumblings of the 7 train above, she considers the green space another oasis for people to come and relax.
“It makes a very big difference when people can enjoy the outdoors in a safe, clean and wonderful manner,” she said. “Our community not only deserves this, but now they expect it.”
David Strauss, deputy director for the Queens Museum, said the institution has been hosting programming at Corona Plaza for more than a decade. What started as summertime art performances evolved into “full-scale block parties.”
Now, the museum provides three seasons of programming that range from performances to films.
“The most important aspect of this is that it is all community-driven,” Strauss said.
While the plaza is in construction, Queens Museum will continue its programming elsewhere in the community.
“That’s because the community has a hunger for it,” he said, “and we want to meet that.”