QUEENS - After a summertime crackdown, street vendors will return to Corona Plaza in Queens again.
Corona Plaza had become a flashpoint during the summer, as neighbors and nearby business owners demanded the city crackdown on the market, which had become a free-for-all for more than 80 vendors, packed into a limited space. The vast majority of the vendors were unlicensed and residents told us they even witnessed drugs and alcohol being sold there.
However, on Tuesday, City Hall announced a smaller Corona Plaza market would reopen this week, with 14 stalls for vendors. Customers will be served Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 8 PM. Rules are being implemented which will require merchants to pay taxes, and food vendors will have to fulfill food safety requirements and have permits.
"It is really great to see this market going back to life, which is something that the community has been working towards for all those past four months," said Mohamed Attia of the Street Vendors Project, which advocated for the estimated 100 families working in the unregulated market.
The Corona Plaza Market got the attention of culinary circles when the pandemic hit – selling Latin dishes that are hard to find in other parts of the city. But it was also overcrowded, prone to litter, and open at all hours.
"We only want it better for our families. I'm just hoping things do get better. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I can only stay positive. And for the vendors as well, I hope it works out for them," said Massiel Lugo, a local resident who had clashed with vendors and their supporters but now hails the compromise.
The reopening of the Corona Plaza Market is essentially a four-month trial. Many hope it becomes a template for other street vendor locations to become legitimate businesses.