CORONA — A new public space has opened in the heart of Queens, just steps from the 103rd Street subway, offering an oasis for those looking for a place to sit and enjoy the last beautiful days of summer.
Corona Plaza, a business hub on Roosevelt Avenue between National Street and 104th Street in Queens, was transformed earlier this month into a sprawling, 13,000 square-foot public space, in a joint effort between business and public space advocates, according to the Department of Transportation.
And although the plaza is currently classified as temporary, there are no plans to reopen the street, according to a spokesman from the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
"As of right now, it's here to say," said Ricardi Calixte, director of neighborhood economic development for the EDC. "Unless there's some kind of major backlash, which we don't expect to happen, it's going to be there."
The EDC partnered with the Queens Museum, the Flushing WIllets Point Corona Local Development Corporation and Corona Community Action Network to pitch the plaza to the DOT, and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, who represents Corona, secured funding for construction, Calixte said.
Calixte said the group saw a need to add more public space to an area that was in real need.
"There's really not much, which is why that area was identified," Calixte said. "In terms of size, it's a big site that was not being used to its full capacity."
On Wednesday, families, shoppers and some workers out on a short break were basking in the sunshine.
"Love it!" lifelong Corona resident Marina Frangos, 46, said of the space. "It's good. It gives you a good feeling."
Her daughter, Sophia Frangos, 25, agreed.
"This is a high-traffic area," the younger Frangos said. "It doesn't feel like it's the same area.
"It's a nice home away from home."
The space has gotten some good use, according to Fabiana Gomez, 23, who was on a lunch break from her job at the dentist's office across the street.
"Every day it gets packed," Gomez said. "They talk, they eat, their kids play around."
While there is not yet an official grand opening date, the park will have a kickoff party within the next two weeks, Calixte said.