The brand new recreational spaces are part of a major master plan upgrade for the Corona public housing project, which is home to 20,000 people, set to unfold over the next few years.
“We’re going to see the future NBA players coming out of this court,” State Senator Jose Peralta said at the ribbon cutting. “We’re going to see the future Venus and Serena Williams coming out of this court.”
Peralta was joined by fellow legislator Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey and LeFrak President Jamie LeFrak at the ceremony, which unveiled a newly renovated recreation area with the athletic courts and a fully landscaped seating area, complete with benches and picnic tables.
The area was designed by Matthew Nielson Landscape Architects.
“You now have a beautiful place to be outside,” Aubrey said. “Kids will be able to enjoy that, seniors will able to enjoy that. We’re going to be able to have a great summer and spring in LeFrak City.”
Jeffrion also said that the community needs to work together to keep the space clean and make it safe for everyone to use.
“We need to be grateful and at the same time helpful to make this community work together and that means all of us pulling in the same place,” he said. “We can do this. This is not so hard. We just need to work together, communicate together.”
In the past, LeFrak City has had its share of troubles.
In November 2014, a pregnant Brandee Anastasia Massey was shot and killed in a hallway in LeFrak City. A few moths earlier, in June, Andrew Ramirez, 21, was chased through the complex and stabbed to death by three men.
The politicians focused on a future they kept referring to as a “new LeFrak City.”
“LeFrak has gone through some recent tragedies,” Peralta said. “But today is a day of celebration, because today is about a new hope. A new beginning.”
Peralta said he believes that LeFrak City can become the destination it was intended to be and that the complex’s ownership and management has held up their end of the deal with this physical transformation.
That transformation is physically manifested in these new recreational spaces, which were immediately put to use, despite the cold wind and damp air.
After the ribbon cutting, some of the LeFrak City youngsters played a little basketball with Peralta and Aubrey, teaching them a thing or two about making a layup or hitting a jump shot.
The project is just the first part of a grander renovation that the housing complex is about to undergo.
Following the renovation of the recreation area in the West Courtyard, Lefrak says they now have plans for a brand new playground with state-of-the-art equipment in the same courtyard.
There are also plans in the future for a swimming pool on the grounds, which they hope to have completed and ready for use by 2017 in the East Courtyard.
The multi-million dollar renovation will include brand new corridors, light fixtures, new renovated apartments, new elevators, upgraded lobbies and the largest roof solar panel in New York City.