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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #13-64

Seth Solomonow/Nicholas Mosquera (DOT): (212) 839-4850
Laura Hansen (The Hort): (212) 757-0915 x102
Melissa Shuffield (Chase): (212) 622-4080

NYC DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan Announces Innovative New Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, Providing Funding and Creating Jobs For New Public Spaces Through Major Gift From Chase

Program designed to provide local jobs, stronger plaza maintenance partners and provide lasting support system for popular public spaces in underserved neighborhoods

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and City Council Member Julissa Ferreras joined executives of Chase in Corona Plaza today to announce the launch of the new Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP), a program designed as a model for providing financial and logistical support to communities to maintain clean, green and vibrant public plazas in neighborhoods across the city. Managed by the Horticultural Society (The Hort), NPP will provide local partners with affordable, high-quality plaza maintenance and horticulture care; create transitional jobs for 100 former convicts through workforce development programs with the Association for Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE NY); and provide long-term support at these vibrant community spaces. The NPP is launching with a major $800,000 leadership gift provided by Chase. With 59 pedestrian plazas installed, in planning or under construction across the city, DOT’s Plaza Program has used inexpensive, temporary materials as well as seating, planters and other amenities to convert underused areas of city streets into safe, green pedestrian spaces, providing significant local benefits and aiding area businesses, as DOT works to build out these spaces using permanent materials. For each plaza, local partner organizations provide maintenance and community programming, often relying on voluntary contributions of time and funding. The NPP will provide employment to reformed convicts and train them to maintain plantings at participating locations, creating jobs, helping stabilize New York City neighborhoods from East New York to Ozone Park to Corona and providing resources where they are needed most. Chase Global Philanthropy and Council Member Ferreras also presented a “Daily Point of Light Award” to Edgar Gutierrez, manager of Walgreens on Corona Plaza, for his efforts to engage local businesses in the creation and care of this popular plaza space.

“New York has always been a city of neighborhoods, and while we’ve provided 26 acres of community plazas citywide, too many places still lack the kind of open spaces that can serve as the hearts of our communities,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Thanks to this innovative partnership, we’re building a better city not only with concrete, but through new jobs, new local partners and new opportunities in every borough.”

“We know that capital turns around communities. An investment like the one we are making today spurs development in and around neighborhoods, strengthens the economy and improves the lives of the people who frequent these plazas day to day,” said Vincent La Padula, Managing Director with J.P. Morgan’s private bank.

“Corona Plaza is the perfect place to announce this visionary philanthropic gift from Chase, and to bestow a national award for volunteerism on one of our many unsung heroes,” said Council Member Ferreras. “Because our community deserves the same kind of public amenity as any other, we have rallied around the Plaza Program and this site for more than five years. The Queens Economic Development Corporation and our local merchants association, Corona CAN, partnered with the Queens Museum, and with hundreds of residents, all of whom donated time and energy to make this one of the best public spaces anywhere in New York City.  We are delighted that, thanks to Chase, the excellent service NPP provides here will expand to our sister plazas in other parts of Queens and across the city.”

“With Chase as our partner, we can significantly expand a unique model of combining workforce development with organizational capacity building on behalf of public space,” said Laura Hansen, Director of Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.  “It’s a triple bottom line:  clean, colorful plazas improve neighborhoods;  local non-profits gain technical assistance and capacity;  and hard-to-employ New Yorkers in the rehabilitative programs at ACE NY and The Hort have more and better transitional work experience.  Chase is committed to improving workforce development and neighborhoods, and we are honored to help them carry out that mission.”

About DOT Plaza Program

DOT has 59 plaza spaces installed or in various stages of development, already producing 26 new acres of public space. Through the Plaza Program, the agency works with partners to build and maintain new destinations that fit the unique needs and character of each community and serve local businesses. Economic data from businesses around the first plaza on Pearl Street in DUMBO showed a 172% increase in sales after installation, compared to 18% growth borough-wide. The Plaza Program is part of the City’s effort to ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space, a key component of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, a blueprint for a greener, more sustainable New York.

About Neighborhood Plaza Partnership

Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP) is a new program of The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort).  With ACE NY, NPP is pioneering a new mode of public space management in low-income neighborhoods combing workforce development  with organizational capacity-building, to nurture and sustain a robust network of neighborhood plazas across the five boroughs.

About Chase

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. Chase serves more than 50 million consumers and four million small businesses through more than 5,500 bank branches, 17,500 ATMs, credit cards, mortgage offices, and online and mobile banking as well as through relationships with auto dealerships. More information about Chase is available at www.chase.com and @Chase. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender.

About Corona Plaza

Corona Plaza is maintained by the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), in partnership with the Queens Museum.  QEDC’s maintenance of Corona Plaza is supported by the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona LDC, with funding from New York Community Bank, New York Community Bank Foundation, and Richmond County Savings Bank Foundation.

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