Nov. 28, 2023 By Bill Parry
Four months after they were banished from Corona Plaza, street vendors will return under a new plan announced by Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The first-ever regulated community vending area at Corona Plaza will include an initial group of 14 street vendors —10 of them serving food — who will be required to have necessary city permits. A third-party operator will work with city agencies to address any public safety risks and community concerns.
“Our administration has a vision for a Corona Plaza that welcomes all members of our community — keeping our neighbors safe, ensuring our streets are clean, and creating economic opportunities for local residents,” Adams said. “For too long, city government has told the community around Corona Plaza to fend for themselves, but now we are being clear that we are here to help. This community deserves a plaza that everyone living in, working in, and visiting the area can enjoy — and that’s exactly what this plan will deliver.”
The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) will serve as the interim operator or the community vending area while the Department of Transportation will issue a request for proposal in early 2024 to select a long-term operator.
“The QEDC, with our partners, is looking forward to making Corona Plaza a center of commerce that will benefit businesses both large and small,” QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein said. “In doing so, it will serve this thriving community and be a model for other neighborhoods throughout the city.”
The city launched the controversial crackdown in late July after the 311 system received 78 complaints related to illegal vending on Corona Plaza in 2023, a nearly five-fold increase from the 17 complaints in the same period in 2022.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards rallied with local leaders on Aug. 2, condemning the purge while calling on the city to issue more legal permits to street vendors. He called the community vending area a good start.
“Corona Plaza has been a hub of culture, cuisine, and commerce for years — a place where hard-working, mainly immigrant residents make a living and where guests from around the globe come to see what the ‘World’s Borough’ is all about. There is still a long way to go to ensure Corona Plaza is returned to its rightful status as the heartbeat of Corona, but I’m optimistic that we now have a framework to build upon in the weeks and months ahead,” Richards said. “Now that we’ve taken that all-important first step in this process, I look forward to continuing this critical work with the administration and our community partners to write the wrongs of this summer and bring a sense of vibrancy back to the plaza.”
Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi will lead a group of city agencies in partnership with local elected officials and community leaders. To ensure upkeep of the plaza, the operator will oversee maintenance during operating hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
“New Yorkers rely on public space for recreation, culture, community building and eating. Today’s announcement reflects this truth and more importantly the level of cooperation and compromise it takes to make it happen — bringing safe and tasty vending back to Corona Plaza,” Joshi said. “This new community vending area provides a unique opportunity for street vendors to make a living outside of the shadows and has the potential of serving as a model for other neighborhoods.”
The plan for Corona Plaza delivers on a unanimous recommendation from the Mayor’s Street Vendor Advisory Board, which included representatives from city agencies, street vendors, retail food stores, property owners, small businesses, and community organizations.
“The Corona Plaza Street Vendors Association is grateful to the elected officials and partners for their support for our community’s street vendors, most of whom are immigrant mothers,” said Rosario Troncoso, board president of the Corona Plaza Street Vendors Association and a member of the Street Vendor Project and Urban Justice Center. “We have advocated for several years to formalize the market, even during the height of the pandemic, because we believe the market will be a foundational opportunity for the essential microbusinesses that provide our community with a cultural hub and nutritious, affordable food. We look forward to growing our collaboration with all involved in this project to make the market an example for the entire city, and to continue contributing to the economy of our neighborhood, Corona, Queens.”