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Plazas Come to Queens Blvd, as Days Numbered for Vendors

Photo: QueensPost

June 9, 2014 By Christian Murray

The Department of Transportation will be converting the areas beneath the 40th and 46th Street subway stations into plazas later this month.

The community board signed off on the plans Thursday that will bring planters to the two plazas, as well as moveable tables and chairs.

The community board’s approval was the final step in a process that started last year when Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District applied to DOT to be part of the program. The BID wanted to convert the underutilized space under the train into a more attractive event space.

The DOT alerted that the BID early April that it had been selected and that it would hold a workshop on April 30, where the public would be able to weigh in on the design.

More than 50 people attended the workshop with many calling for planters, tables and chairs, wayfinding maps, better lighting, artwork as well as a designated area for vendors. They also called for the 46th Street plaza—which still has roadway going through it– to be filled with concrete so there would be one level that would be 5,500 sqf.

The DOT then took those ideas away and then presented a revised plan to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee meeting.

At the Transportation meeting, the DOT said it would be installing planters at the plazas to create a green buffer and to soften the noise– and would be bringing movable tables and chairs. The DOT also said it would fill in the existing roadway at 46th Street with concrete.

However, David Breen, who handles the plaza program for the DOT, said he was unable to bring wayfinders to the plaza or improve the lighting, since those items are not part of Plaza Program toolbox.

Breen said he would speak to DOT ‘s wayfinding team to help the community board bring those items to the neighborhood. Furthermore, Breen said he would work with his DOT colleagues to bring better street lighting to the plazas.

However, contrary to the opinions expressed at the public workshop April 30, Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley, as well as Christopher Winchester, the vice president of the BID, both asked Breen for ways to block vendors from entering the plazas.

Winchester asked if a granite block could be placed at the 40th street plaza in order to stop food carts from coming in. Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, also wanted bollards to go up.

Breen, however, said: “From our perspective licensed vending is not prohibited in plazas.”

Conley said it has now been determined that vending is illegal at 46th Street and he was searching for ways to make it illegal at 40th Street. He discussed ways of configuring the plazas so the vendors would not be able to be there since they would be too close to a subway entrance.

Vikram Sandra, a DOT planner, told Conley at the committee meeting  that people wanted them when the workshop was held. “During the workshop people spoke positively of them [vendors].”

Conley, however, disputed that. “That small population that spoke in favor it does not represent the majority of the population that is out there,” he said.

Rachel Thieme, the executive director of the BID, who presented the plaza plan before the full board on Thursday spoke of all the benefits that will come from them. When she was asked about the vendors she said: “The plaza program has nothing to do with vendors.”

Meanwhile, Conley, shortly after Thieme spoke, said the community board is being very aggressive about enforcement. He said that the coffee vendor at 40th Street was ticketed Wednesday for backing his cart in the space dangerously.

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This is truly idiotic. Why take away a perfectly good and well liked option from Sunnysiders and visitors to our neighborhood? While parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are working to attract vendors to service their populations our leaders are busy trying to destroy what we already have. And for what…!?!? Who is going to sit under the subway and watch cars zip by while being drowned out by subways overhead???


Where is my fruit gay.i miss them I can eat enuohgh fruit and vegetable so expensive everywhere fruit vendor fresh and cheap.

Oldschool Sunnysider

Like Deep Throat said, “FOLLOW THE MONEY”!!!

Oldschool Sunnysider

I would rather eat from a food truck than at SideTracks.
Too bad they spent a million on “renovations” and five bucks on making their food edible. Now the owners whine as people vote with their feet and walk past to better and cheaper eats.

43rd & 43rd

Hope they keep the vendors! I don’t buy from them often, but they’re very convenient and I know other people use them frequently. They provide a much needed service to Sunnyside residents.

Even if you got rid of the vendors, the person currently grabbing a $1 coffee or a $5 chicken-over-rice would not start going into Caffe Bene for a $5 coffee or a nearby restaurant for a $15-20 meal. Local restaurateurs are incredibly short-sighted and corrupted for trying to get rid of what they perceive as competition. If they think truck/cart vendors’ business model is so much better, they should get trucks/carts instead.


Any improvement coming to the community is appreciated. While plazas are a great idea I am not sure the space underneath the 7 line is really a great place for anything.

On the vendors (and so many other issues, i.e. backyard use in LIC) I feel it may be time to remove JC as president.

“Conley, however, disputed that. “That small population that spoke in favor it does not represent the majority of the population that is out there,” he said.

Maybe the small population of power players and JC intimates do not represent the majority of the population that is out there.

CB2 is inhibiting the good things that can be in Western Queens in its current composition!


I really think that the problem of homeless people living under the #7 should be resolved first before any plans are made to build two plazas. Also, people with allergies and serious breathing problems would most likely stay away from the exhaust fumes from the moving traffic along Queens Blvd. The plazas pose a serious health threat, even for those without health issues. A good idea, but a healthier location should be considered.


@ a.bidge Shall we all come together, kneel before you and commit mass hari kari because we don’t please you?

Or, should you mature, realize the world has other people in it whose lives are as important to the world as yours is but who might not fit your narrow definition of what humanity should be like?

The second is as likely to happen as the first.


@Sunnysideposthatesme16 – If the local dinosaurs where less against ‘hipsters’ then there would be more morning pouring into sunnyside, and the area would be improving. Sunnyside could be a pretty great place to be if there wasn’t so many moany old farts slowing progress down.

Diversity Lover

I’m appalled at this person talking about Mexicans urinating in the bushes. 99% of Mexicans are good people so the other 1 percent are urinating in the bushes. People open your minds a half an inch!


So instead of admitting that the art installed was hideous and a waste of money, they will once again deny what the community wants and waste even MORE money creating an even worse idea.

I imagine these members coming on to this board and reading these messages and then a tear…rolls down their cheek. , I really want them to get emotional, to know that they are doing a horrible job at everything Sunnyside and they have made a mockery of what once was a respectable quiet neighborhood.

on that note..I think the hipsters are finally starting to leave. I only see one guy on a skateboard going to work instead of 3. Also many of the apartments in my building have remained empty. I guess people don’t see the value in a $1800 studio in Sunnyside.


Straight RUBBISH. How about removing all the drunk Mexicans from the Thomson Noonan Park!?!? What is the NYPD doing about that? Mexicans urinating in the bushes 24/7 when there are young children and families passing by..Sunnyside us disgusting. Can’t wait for my lease to be up from.this dump…..

Henrik Lundquist

Love plazas, hate vendors. Sorry, I don’t want one of those “people open your minds a half an inch” post from some liberal, diversity loving yuppie.

Tawn Shornton

“The community board signed off on the plans Thursday that will bring planters to the two plazas …”

What they they planting under there, mushrooms?

Well, Oil, Beef, Hooked

This really is a case of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The less time I spend near the Boulevard of Death, the better. I certainly don’t want to hang out in the middle of it.


How about solar compactor garbage cans, the overspill is intense! Those that actually use the garbage cans might be grateful.

[email protected]

I didn’t want to have to go here but…Joe Conly is taking something away that I love from the neighborhood. So you know what, I got one for Joe. Conley doesn’t even live in CB2! Outed! Leave our street vendors alone. This is a working class neighborhood! Get some real problems!


When will this city and this borough learn that the money should be spent not on creating new facilities and installation but rather spent on maintenance and cleaning. These have too long been “dirty” words for New York City with the result that our city is among the filthiest in the world. The filth-ridded, urine-sprinkled streets, subways and underpasses we see each day will not be made more beautiful or pedestrian friendly with the addition of “plazas” and new seating areas and planters! Just put our tax dollars and the union municipal workers to work for once for all CLEANING the streets and subways!

Flores 65

I really don’t mind about the new plazas, but I feel a bit iffy about the Wayfinder maps and the artwork. The new plazas are better off with green buffers, better lighting, plants, and a designated area for vendors.


Fortunately for you I speak Change Bum! just like Han Solo can speak to Wookies.

He told me “Chaaaaaaaaange…HAck Sptooooooeey.. Change change Chaaaange!”

Translation: [Thank you for the new plaza, my people look forward to sitting and sleeping here. If you see us , would you mind sparing a tiny bit of currency you could part ways with? (ptoooeyyy)]


This is a partially great idea! Having space to hang out with my family on a sunny day would be nice… but will these plazas have some sort of roofing? Not sure I’d take advantage of this knowing train debris and bird feces will be dropping on to my baby, her stroller or any food we are eating 🙁


I don’t really give a damn about the vendors, I don’t eat from them anyway. But, I think these plaza’s are a waste of money. Who wants to sit beneath the dirty subway station and have a pigeon shit on them. The money would be much better spent on some kind of green area with seating, somewhere you can sit when it’s sunny.

Tom Marino

I’m not so concerned about vendors but I do have an issue with cyclists. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen cyclists use the areas at the bottom of the 40th Street Station staircases as a cut through to one side of the boulevard to the other where hitting a disembarking commuter was narrowly avoided. This- in my opinion- requires a structural disincentive irrespective of the plaza idea. With that in mind, will plaza visitors have to be in defense mode while taking advantage of the plazas at 40th or 46th street??


Can you investigate if there’s buildings with section 8 or homeless hold ups in sunnyside a lot of suspect people around here lately looking for trouble


Food vendors utilize portable generators and cause serious levels of exhaust pollution, Especially yogurt and ice cream trucks. Furthermore I believe this poses a harmful threat to the health of individuals who need to be nearby for extended periods of time.


The whole anti-vendor movement is so idiotic! The vendors have moved from below the train and the surrounding area to directly outside my bedroom window every night. Great job Conley, that’s exactly what we were all hoping for!


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