Feb. 7, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez
Sunnysiders are invited to gather under the iconic arch this weekend for a group photo showcasing the neighborhood’s “strength and unity” nearly two months after a massive fire ripped through and destroyed six businesses on Queens Boulevard.
The community photo will be taken at 1 p.m. on Feb. 9 under the arch in an event organized by Sunnyside Shines, the business improvement district group and lead organizer behind relief efforts after the Dec. 13 fire.
“This is a giant, wide invitation to the hundreds of people who donated to victims of the 12/13 fire, folks who worked at or owned affected businesses, or who worked in any aspect on relief efforts,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of Sunnyside Shines, in an e-mail.
The devastating fire saw an immediate and tremendous outpour of support in the form of donations, fundraising and resource events, and online auctions among other neighborhood-wide efforts.
A relief fundraiser just four days after the five-alarm fire, for instance, saw more than one thousand attendees.
Close to $165,000 has been raised for the employees and business owners of the affected businesses—New York Style Eats, Sidetracks, UPS, Zen Yai, Romantic Depot, and Better Line Hardware—according to Sunnyside Shines.
The BID set up a registration about one month ago for victims of the fire to receive aid from the donated funds. In all, 103 workers were able to receive $1,390 in monetary relief and $200 in grocery vouchers, with final disbursements made last week.
The BID, as part of relief efforts, is also working to determine what percentage of those affected have found work eight weeks post-fire.
The cause of the fire, which sent several firefighters and civilians to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, is being determined by the FDNY.
The single Queens Boulevard building that contained the six businesses has since been boarded up, with emergency demolition taking place on site beginning early January. Con Edison and Department of Environmental protection crews had also worked to shut power and utilities off to the charred site, located between 45th and 46th Streets, in the days after the fire.
Some businesses have already bounced back just weeks after the 2 a.m. fire. Better Line Hardware, which had been located on 45th Street off Queens Boulevard since 1990, relocated to a corner spot on Greenpoint Avenue last month.
The owners of the UPS Store, meanwhile, are close to opening a pop-up store near the prior location.
The group photo this Saturday will have police barricades to block the street for the duration of the event, and a photographer will take the shot atop a ladder.
The event will also be followed by a post-gathering with happy hour specials at Solid State Barcade, located at 53-22 Roosevelt Ave.
All who join in on the community photo will receive a copy of it to mark the occasion.