Elected officials and community leaders gathered at the plaza last Thursday to celebrate the first phase of the project, which includes closing the street to traffic and installing tables and chairs.
“This is not a formal dedication, but a harbinger of great things to come,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
The new plaza, which sits in the shadow of the 104th Street subway station just south of Roosevelt Avenue, is a work in progress. The Department of Transportation is currently working with local residents on continuing development of the plaza.
“Our design process usually takes bout a year,” said Maura McCarthy, DOT’s Queens commissioner. “So, hopefully in about a year we can get started on something.”
Ideas include more greenery, a fountain, and performance space.
Plaza planners have also partnered with the nearby Queens Museum of Art to schedule events in the new plaza. In the past, QMA has hosted events in and around this section of Corona, and it’s hoped that hosting events in the future will keep energy and interest focused on the plaza.
“This is a really special place in the community,” said Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of QMA. “This turned out even better than we hoped, and that almost never happens.”
So far, the plaza is a hit with the community. Marylin Lucero has lived in Corona for 20 years, and she remembers what the space was like before the plaza.
“It was always dirty and full of trucks,” she said. “I just tried to avoid it.”
Lucero says you hardly notice the 7 train rumbling by on the elevated tracks any more.
“I actually sat here and ate my lunch one day,” she said.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said that local residents in a neighborhood lacking open space are still getting used to the new plaza.
“My constituents would ask, ‘can I really sit here?’” Ferreras said. “I said, ‘of course, this is your plaza.’”