Jan. 8, 2015 By Christian Murray
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has “serious concerns” about the Department of City Planning’s proposal to extend the Vernon Mall beyond 51st Avenue to make way for public space.
The proposal, put forward by City Planning at a community board meeting in November, would extend the mall toward Borden Avenue and replace the strip where more the 30 cars are parked. The additional public space, the department argued, would complement the existing mall that has trees and benches.
However, the proposal has received some push back from local residents and business owners. They claim the loss of the parking spaces would hurt small business.
“I have serious concerns about the Department of City Planning’s proposal…because of some of the adverse impacts it would have to the community and local business.”
“The proposal to re-envision the Vernon Boulevard Mall is still at a conceptual stage, and my office will continue to hear the concerns of local residents and business owners to ensure their feedback is incorporated into a plan that benefits the entire community.”
At the community board meeting when the proposal was put forward, several board members were hesitant about the plan. While they appreciated the concept of additional public space, they were concerned that the lost parking spaces would cause problems.
“Parking is a big issue,” said Sheila Lewandowski, a Long Island City resident and board member, at the November meeting. “It is very important … for the local businesses.”
Meanwhile, Al Volpe, another board member, was very opposed to the plan. “You are going to kill the businesses down there,” he said.
To echo some of my neighbors – these businesses gain far more from pedestrian traffic than they ever did from people driving in. And by “businesses,” we’re really only talking a few spots – Bricktown, Tournesol, what else? I guarantee the vast majority of their business is comprised of pedestrians and mass transit riders.
Removing those parking spots and cleaning-up that area is long overdue. I live right there and can attest to what a mess it is.
If there’s such a shortage of parking, why is it priced at zero?
I can’t believe people freak out like this over parking, especially a measly 30 spots. The 7 goes RIGHT through there and it’s a very walkable area. Replacing parking with public space is proven to enhance areas like this. That Van Bramer doesn’t get that is even more ridiculous.
What limited evidence there is on the topic suggests that increasing the appeal of a space to pedestrians at the expense of parking is beneficial to businesses in New York, since most customers in dense parts of the city commute by transit and foot rather than driving.
Advocates of this plan should enlighten businesses on the benefits of less driving and parking around their stores when it comes to revenue, since they always seem to hold the counterintuitive idea that their business mostly arrives by car.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many business owners drive?
The current Vernon Mall and Vernon Boulevard was to improve 6 years ago but plans by the HPCDC were shelved because of the dirty politics that seems so pervasive in LIC. If Vernon Mall was improved with benches, a fountain , street lamps, a welcome sign, a visitors center, plants and trees etc. etc. it would be more attractive and be used by locals and visitors.
Taking away parking spots would is not a good idea either. Just spruce up the stretch and sweep away the political nastiness . That’s all.
In haste , I did not check my grammar. It should be read that the Vernon Mall…was to be improved 6 years ago…
The existing Mall is never used. It doesnt add any visual impact or value to the area. Its a no Mans Land that will continue to be with the additional mall extension.
I agree with Ro.
Widen the sidewalks , remove the desolate, underutilized mall and allow cafe seating . this will increase pedestrian activity.
Add trees,benches, proper lamposts. Add short term (3 hr) curbside parking.
The businesses will get stronger, the area will become more of a destination and pedestrians that dont have cars (specifically from manhattan) will start frequenting this area.
I think it’s a great idea to turn this area into a parkland/pedestrian area. This is a highly visible section of LIC and a lot of what people think about an area is optics. This is the gateway to LIC from Brooklyn, The L.I.E. etc. Right now, it’s a confusing thoroughfare for car traffic. These businesses shouldn’t depend on out of area customers. A more pleasant pedestrian area, may actually increase their foot traffic as opposed to getting rid of 30 ugly parking spaces.
I will repost my idea which I posted in the last thread.
If CB2’s objective is to help local businesses it should first focus on improving the curb appeal of this area. We can add 100 more parking spaces but if this area looks the way it currently does it will do nothing for the surrounding businesses. My impression is that most of these parking spaces currently cater to commuters and not so much to patrons. Therefore, increasing parking fees for long term parkers makes a lot of sense. If you incentives short term parking there will be more turnover and that is what business owners benefit from.
What the city should really do is blow out the mall and have Vernon Blvd run through it. Then widen the sidewalks on both sides and create a series of public and private (outdoor restaurant seating) spaces on both sides. This make this area pedestrian friendly and reinvigorates this part of Vernon. This will get rid of the mall that is currently a “no man’s land” and give the surrounding properties a vested interest in keeping the widened sidewalks clean and appealing. There is no reason why this area with such great access to mas transit should be so desolate and under utilized.
The Vernon Mall is a gateway to LIC and also a gateway for many to NYC. It needs to be cleaned up and represent the community in a more user friendly and appealing manner. We need grass, trees and maybe a little tourist kiosk that will have information about all the local businesses.
Whatever the final plan is, do something to make the “mall” a place to actually go, vs a haven for homeless people. #justsayin
I got a much better idea. Lets bulldoze the first Vernon mall and add 30 more spots. This will also evict the losers that hang out there drinking and smoking at the same time!!!
Mr. Van Bramer, if you are so concern perhaps you can help us to get alternate street parking so we get our streets clean and I am positive that it will free up plenty of parking spaces. Cars are being parked on one spot for weeks or months at the time…. Sometimes it would help if you would listen to real residents rather then those half retards at community board that are terrorizing rest of us….
I like my free parking.
Who in the neighborhood drives down to visit those businesses vs walking? If these businesses are dependent on drive-in customers, they are dependent on non-Hunter’s Point customers. Let them fail and be replaced by businesses that serve the local residents.
Someone must have dropped off the envelope at Jimmy’s office.
Ditto. There’s a plan. Because the proposed plan is unwelcome and stunningly meaningless.
The parking is needed,but Im sure that there are ways for them to still make improvments to the Vernon Mall and the parking area. It needs to be more pedstrian friendly. I think that it could use some cleaning up and maybe the parking area can still exist with some upgrade maybe some trees can be placed in the center of the parking area in a small barrier island to provied beauty and shade to that part.But to remove the parking would be insane, parking is so limited already.