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Queens Plaza Foot Traffic Rivals Downtown, Locals Say

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | August 7, 2012 2:42pm

LONG ISLAND CITY — Queens Plaza is looking more like Times Square these days.

Foot traffic in the area, which has experienced a flurry of new development recently, has spiked 30 percent and almost doubled during lunchtime during the past two years — putting it on par with some spots in Lower Manhattan, according to LIC Partnership, an advocacy group promoting businesses in the area.

Many companies have moved their headquarters to Queens Plaza in that time span, including JetBlue, and numerous hotels have popped up in area. The NYC Health Department has also opened a new office to the area.

Last week, the LIC Partnership counted pedestrians on Queens Plaza South between 27th and 28th streets between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and compared the results with a similar count done in 2010.

On a recent Wednesday, 9,836 people passed by, 2,508 of them during lunchtime. Two years ago, just 6,945 people walked through the plaza — 1,410 during lunchtime.

“We found the increase in foot traffic to be very encouraging,” said Dan Miner, senior vice president at Long Island City Partnership. “It speaks well to the development in the area.”

Miner also pointed out that number of pedestrians walking around Queens Plaza now compares with some areas in Manhattan, citing data from Downtown Alliance. The organization's pedestrian count from September 2011 found 9,000 pedestrians in the area around Nassau Street and Maiden Lane and less than 8,000 around Water and Wall Streets.

“The business is definitely better,” said Ali Salah, who works at 3 Friendly Grocery, just across the street from the new office of Health Department. “Especially during lunchtime we see a lot of people who come for snacks and beverages.”

Stephanie Smith, who has worked in the area for 10 years, said she sometimes chooses alternative routes to work from the train station “to avoid Queens Plaza in the morning, because it's so crowded and noisy," she said.

But in general, it's good for the local businesses, said Smith, who has been working in customer service for a nearby manufacturing company.

Maria Mendez, 38, of Corona, said that cars are clogging the area as well.

“Sometimes it’s really not easy to cross the street here,” said Mendez, who attends classes at Queens Adult Learning Center on Crescent Street.

Despite of the increase in foot traffic, some business owners are skeptical about the business opportunities in the area.

“It’s good between eight and 10 in the morning and then during lunch time between 12 and two,” said Luca Pipponi from Triple Shot World Atlas, a coffee shop that opened its Queens Plaza location this spring, following its locations in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

“But it’s dead on weekends and that’s a big loss for us,” Pipponi added. “This area needs two to three more years to develop. It also needs more shopping opportunities."