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Lowery Plaza Now Open in Sunnyside

October 24, 2014

Lowery Plaza, the second of two new public plazas coming to Sunnyside, Queens opened today in a ceremony attended by several local elected officials, including Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, State Senator Michael Gianaris, NYC DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall, and Queens Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley. Lowery Plaza, located at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, under the elevated 7 train, has been transformed from an underutilized underpass into a vibrant public space with seating and colorful planters. The plaza is a part of the New York City Department of Transportation's NYC Plaza Program and will be managed by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

In 2013, the Sunnyside Shines BID submitted an application to the NYC Plaza Program, with strong support from local elected officials and community stakeholders. In early April 2014, they were notified that the application was accepted. The program commenced with a community outreach meeting in April and was approved by Queens Community Board 2 in June. Bliss Plaza, located at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, opened in July.

Like Bliss Plaza, Lowery Plaza includes tables, chairs and decorative planters. Both plazas will be open year-round, from approximately 9am until dusk. The names of the plazas are derived from the original street names for 40th Street (Lowery Street) and 46th Street (Bliss Street). Both areas were already closed to traffic prior to their designations under the NYC Plaza Program.

Sunnyside Shines BID has contracted with the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP) for partial maintenance of the plazas and the plantings. NPP is a project of the Horticultural Society offering horticulture and maintenance services utilizing workforce training programs that provide training and jobs to formerly incarcerated and homeless populations.

"Sunnyside just got a lot greener," said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "Tens of thousands of people pass through Sunnyside every single day. When they hop off the 7 Train at the 40th and 46th Street stations they will be welcomed by two new beautiful public plazas that have completely transformed the neighborhood's most underutilized spaces. By reimagining these spaces we have also created the opportunity to bring cultural programming directly to people in our neighborhood. I look forward to working with Sunnyside Shines BID to bring both Bliss and Lowery Plazas to life by featuring music, art and dance from our neighborhood's local artists for all to enjoy."

"The opening of Lowery Plaza is great news for Sunnyside residents and DOT is very proud to be a key partner in transforming this space into a vibrant and productive public plaza," said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall. "This new local destination will significantly improve the life of residents and the vitality of local businesses in Sunnyside and Queens."

"The Neighborhood Plaza Program has already had a big success in Sunnyside with the opening of Bliss Plaza in July," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "This new plaza on 40th Street is also sure to be extremely popular with the community and I commend the City's Department of Transportation and the Sunnyside Shines BID for working together to open and operate this wonderfully vibrant public space."

"It is always difficult to balance pedestrian safety, parking for our local businesses and providing access to public space for our community" said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. "Sunnyside Shines should be commended forworking to resolve these issues in finding the right balance to create something positive for our neighborhood".

"The opening of this plaza on 40th Street, just like Bliss Plaza on 46th Street, is a sign of Sunnyside's continued growth as a destination neighborhood for New Yorkers," said State Senator Michael Gianaris. "As more and more people come here to experience all that Sunnyside has to offer,preserving and creating open spaces is paramount. I am proud to have worked with Sunnyside Shines to help make this plaza a reality, and I invite everyone from all five boroughs to take advantage of this public space and enjoy themselves here."

"I am thrilled to partner with the NYC Department of Transportation to open Lowery Plaza today," said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. "We have received such positive feedback from community members and business owners about the success of Bliss Plaza, and I'm delighted to replicate this success at Lowery Plaza. The plazas are fantastic
neighborhood amenities and true gathering places in Sunnyside."

"We are so proud to be able to bring greenery and a new public space to the middle of the neighborhood," said Sunnyside Shines board member Chris Winchester. "We thank the NYC Department of Transportation for transforming the space into such an asset for Sunnyside."

Sunnyside's application to the NYC Plaza Program had broad community support with over a dozen letters of support from community stakeholders, including elected officials, business owners, property owners, residents and community organizations.