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City announces $12 million redesign of Steinway Street in Astoria to boost business, increase pedestrian safety

The city will invest $12 million in a Steinway Street redesign to boost economic development along a corridor that has seen many businesses shutter over the years. (QNS file photo)

Nov. 22, 2023 By Bill Parry

Once known as the commercial beating heart of Astoria, the slow decline of the Steinway Street business corridor began a half century ago with the opening of the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst.

Shoppers migrated to the borough’s largest mall and Steinway Street storefront businesses bore the brunt of the exodus which was mainly blamed on unsafe conditions for pedestrians for decades.

On Nov. 21, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration announced an investment of $12 million through the Strategy for Equity and Economic Development (SEED) Fund for public realm and streetscape improvements along Steinway Street, something that was promised by the previous administration but was not implemented.

“With this catalytic investment in Steinway Street, we are supporting local small businesses, improving pedestrian safety and circulation, and helping create a more vibrant corridor for neighbors,” Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick said. “With the SEED Fund and City of Yes zoning changes, we’re supporting neighborhoods and communities across the city.”

The street redesign, led by the city Department of Transportation, will build out midblock curb extensions and new public spaces at three locations on Steinway Street between 30th and 34th Avenues, and will introduce two new green spaces at the Steinway Landmark Clock and at Municipal Parking Lot #2, between Broadway and 31st Avenue.

“These capital investments will deliver concrete safety upgrades and help beautify what is one of Queens’ premier shopping and dining corridors,” DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said. “These mid-block curb extensions, which will naturally calm vehicle traffic, and new pedestrian space enhancements will together help make Steinway Street an even more welcoming destination.”

Traffic along Steinway Street is a major quality-of-life issue in Astoria. (QNS file photo)

Community Board 1 Chairwoman Marie Torniali, who also serves as the executive director of the Steinway Astoria Partnership, said the business organization is thankful that the Adams administration is moving forward with the street redesign.

“The Steinway Astoria Partnership is grateful and delighted to see these long desired streetscape improvements coming to Steinway Street,” Torniali said. “We have advocated for these green spaces and public spaces for many years and are heartened to see them come to fruition. These elements will go a long way in creating our vision of creating a pedestrian friendly environment here on Steinway Street which will help revitalize this great commercial corridor.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said he was thrilled with the allocation of $12 million in SEED funds, which will greatly benefit the small businesses on Steinway Street those who patronize them.

“These funds will strongly improve pedestrian circulation and safety along Steinway Street and help support a deep, equitable and sustainable post-pandemic recovery of that corridor and of the entire Astoria neighborhood,” Richards said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the administration on similar projects that will improve our streetscapes and promote economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

Hundreds of Astoria residents marked World Day of Remembrance on Sunday with a rally and march in memory of victims of traffic violence. (Courtesy of Families for Safe Streets)

The announcement comes days after hundreds of Astoria residents marched through the neighborhood demanding more be done to enhance street safety. They were joined by family members of victims who died in recent collisions.

“I welcome these streetscape improvements, which are a good step on the way to what we truly need in order to end traffic violence and save the lives of our neighbors: neighborhood-wide street safety planning,” Council Member Tiffany Cabán said. “Midblock curb extensions are a laudable traffic-calming measure, and we need many more such improvements on a massive scale to truly call our neighborhood safe for pedestrians, cyclists and New Yorkers with mobility impairments.”

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