FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #18-061
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Contact: Scott Gastel/Brian Zumhagen (212) 839-4850
DOT, DDC, and Third Avenue Bid Hold Ribbon Cutting for Newly Constructed Roberto Clemente Plaza in the South Bronx
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, two city agencies join the Third Avenue BID and elected officials to welcome public to the new plaza
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, the Departments of Transportation and Design & Construction agencies were joined by The Third Avenue Business Improvement District and elected officials to open the new Roberto Clemente Plaza in one of the largest commercial districts in the Bronx.
The $16 million newly reconstructed plaza has brought distinctive lighting, planters, new bus shelters, benches, traffic signals, and pedestrian safety improvements including curb extensions and enhanced crossings to one of the busiest areas in the Bronx. Bounded by Third Avenue and 149th Street, the plaza sits within a major commercial district and transportation hub with connections to two subway lines and six bus lines.
Construction work on surrounding streets included sewer work, new water mains, and street restoration, with the addition of a dedicated one-block bus lane along Willis Avenue. Additional funding was made possible through the City Council, the Borough President’s office, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of City Planning.
“Thousands of commuters and residents pass through the Hub daily. What was once just a traffic triangle has now been transformed into a vibrant plaza reflective of this South Bronx community,” said NYC DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner Nivardo Lopez. “New amenities such as benches, lighting, and planters will become a focal point in the neighborhood, and the plaza will also provide a welcoming and safe space for pedestrians.”
“This ribbon-cutting is a culmination our efforts as a community to help small businesses thrive not only in The Hub, but across our borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The Bronx has seen transformative change since I have been in office, and that is thanks, in part, to small businesses being able to flourish in our borough. My office invested $500,000 in capital funds to help renovate and redevelop one of our busiest commercial districts in The Bronx, the Roberto Clemente Plaza, and today we are seeing the fruits of our labor. I want to thank everyone that made this possible, including the New York City Department of Transportation; the Third Avenue BID; and the small businesses that make up this community and are helping our borough continue to grow.”
“This community-based strategic investment will connect the commercial and cultural nodes within the Downtown Bronx to create a unified neighborhood that provides a higher quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Michael Brady, Executive Director of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District. “The completion of the plaza is significant for the many small businesses in the area and is part of a larger plan to support equitable economic development and opportunity while preserving and promoting the borough’s unique heritage and identity. It is so fitting that we formally open the plaza on Small Business Saturday, a day that specifically recognizes the important role of small business in our urban ecosystem.”
“Through our network of 75 BIDs across the five boroughs, we know that communities thrive when they come together,” says Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. “The opening of the Roberto Clemente Plaza on Small Business Saturday is symbolic of the significant contribution it will make to local businesses. This new plaza, made possible by a partnership between City agencies and the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, will help build a stronger neighborhood by providing a space for residents, merchants, and visitors to come together.”
In 2008, the Department of Transportation closed off Willis Avenue to traffic between 148th and 149th Streets. The Department of Design and Construction, who has been building out the plaza in more permanent materials, completed the work this fall. With the fully built out plaza, commuters now have seamless transit connections. The new plaza will also act as a gathering space for local residents and commuters, serving as a stage for community events sponsored by its maintenance partners – the Third Avenue Business Improvement District.
Further enhancements to the plaza will include a statue memorial to its namesake – Puerto Rican outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates Roberto Clemente – the first Latin American and Caribbean baseball player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Para Roberto by Melissa Calderón is slated for installation next year. Work continues on the fountain, which is expected to be completed in the spring.
“As one of the busiest areas in the Bronx, the newly designed Roberto Clemente Plaza will now serve as a destination that can be enjoyed by commuters and residents alike,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Providing access to stores, transportation, and community space, the plaza will go a long way in supporting area small businesses and the greater South Bronx. I thank the Department of Transportation, Department of Design and Construction, and the Third Avenue BID for all their work to make this plaza a reality.”
“A plaza named after a sports hero, activist and the first Latino-American/Puerto Rican inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame should serve to inspire us all,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Today, we’re celebrating the spirit of Roberto Clemente and the Bronx with the opening of a new plaza, which will bring tremendous opportunity to this neighborhood, its residents and businesses. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners in the community and government to ensure this plaza is well maintained and safe so that everyone, whether you’re passing by or staying awhile, can enjoy the space.”
“Centrally located in my district, the Roberto Clemente Plaza has great potential to support the dynamic energy in the neighborhood and drive local and economic growth,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “I’m thrilled that this decade-long project is finally completed so that the Third Avenue BID can begin programming at the Plaza, using funds I fought for in the City Council. I thank the City, Third Avenue BID and key partners for seeing this project to completion.”
“Following extensive renovations, the Roberto Clemente Plaza has re-opened for residents to enjoy once again as a communal space with public art, recreational classes, and modern architecture,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “The newly updated Roberto Clemente Plaza serves as a point of respite and is a connection between local businesses and access to mass public transit—an ideal example of urban planning. As Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, I’m committed to prioritizing additional functionally integrated mixed-use projects throughout the five boroughs.”
“The newly constructed Roberto Clemente Plaza, equipped with improved lighting, benches, and planters will contribute to a better quality of life for residents in the surrounding area,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “I am thrilled to see the plaza opened on Small Business Saturday, as it will promote the vitality and visibility of nearby small businesses. I would like to thank Michael Brady - the Executive Director of the Third Avenue BID, the Department of Transportation, The Department of Design and Construction, and fellow elected officials for investing in the revitalization of this public space.”
DOT owns 77 plazas across New York City, seven of which are in the Bronx. See more information about NYC DOT’s Plaza Program