New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber announced $76.4 million in new infrastructure improvements to transform Long Island City into a center for commercial, residential and retail development. Renovations for Queens Plaza began recently on the site of a former commuter parking lot at Queens Plaza North. The lot will become a portion of a 1.5-acre landscaped signature open space complete with artist-designed benches and pavers, and a continuous protected bikeway and pedestrian walkway complementing the nearby Jackson Avenue Streetscape Project which began in fall 2008 and will be completed in fall 2010.
The improvements are being funded with $23.7 million in city capital, $19.7 million in federal money, and $33 million in federal stimulus-related funds and upon their completion by the end of 2011, the two projects will have created more than 1,700 construction-related jobs.
“Making investments in infrastructure and streetscape today in order to set the stage for growth is a critical component of our Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan,” stated Lieber in a statement.
Phase I of the Queens Plaza Streetscape Improvement Project extends from Queens Plaza North to Queens Plaza South and form Northern Boulevard/Queens Plaza East to 21st Street and will realign and rationalize the traffic network, enhance the environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve the streetscape with new sidewalks, curbs, plantings, and widened, landscaped medians as well as improved lighting designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC of Philadelphia. Phase II will continue improvements from 21st Street to the East River at Vernon Boulevard.
The adjacent Jackson Avenue project is creating a new landscaped median along the corridor and enhancing the streetscape with new sidewalks, lighting, furniture and other amenities as well as redesigning and expanding four triangle-shaped open spaces around Court Square with landscaping and seating designed by Stantec Consulting Service of New Jersey. Both projects will feature native plantings and more than 500 new trees will be planted as a result of the projects.
“Queens is experiencing a cultural and economic renaissance, and the new Queens Plaza will help continue to fuel that,” said Councilmember Eric Gioia. “These street improvements will make Queens Plaza safer for commuters and pedestrians- along with continuing to beautify the neighborhood. We need livable communities, where people can both live and work, and Long Island City is fact becoming the model.”
The two projects are located in the heart of the Long Island City business district which was rezoned in 2001 to allow for high density, mixed-use development. Contracting is being provided by Triumph Contracting is provided by Triumph Construction of the Bronx, New York.