Tag Archives: Rachel Thieme

Sunnyside BID encourages residents to ‘shop local’ for holidays


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

On this year’s Small Business Saturday, one business improvement district is making sure residents keep it local.

The Sunnyside Shines BID is celebrating Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29 with a kickoff event in Bliss Plaza, one of two new pedestrian plazas under the elevated No. 7 train, and with the release of Sunnyside’s first-ever Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide.

“We really want people to reengage with the local businesses here in Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the BID. “There are just so many opportunities and we do have a good variety of retail [in Sunnyside] and we really wanted to highlight that in this guide and showcase that there are so many different types of ideas here.”

The guide, which was created in partnership with students at LaGuardia Community College, is a full-color, printed brochure that features holiday gift ideas from 22 local shops. Residents that live in the area the BID covers will receive the guides in the mail next week.

Czarinna Andres, owner of Bing’s Hallmark, located at 45-15 Greenpoint Ave., said she is delighted the holiday gift guide will help promote local businesses like her own.

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

“Every bit of publicity helps local businesses. Launching the gift guide on Small Business Saturday is a perfect way to make the community more aware of the importance of shopping locally,” Andres said.

Seda Bagdasarya, owner of the jewelry shop That’s Incredible at 45-21 Greenpoint Ave., also hopes this guide will help improve business and bring more customers.

“It’s going to be very good,” Bagdasarya said. “It could be very helpful for business and I hope it continues every year.”

The Small Business Saturday kickoff event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Bliss Plaza, located on Queens Boulevard and 46th Street. It will feature free giveaways including the guide and Small Business Saturday-branded tote bags, while supplies last. There will also be live music from the Sunnyside Social Club.

“Resources like the Sunnyside Shines Shop Local Holiday Gift are creative, important tools to help promote local businesses and engage residents as they start shopping for the holiday season,” said Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, who encourages New Yorkers to shop locally this Small Business Saturday and beyond.

For more information, visit www.sunnysideshines.org.

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Second Sunnyside pedestrian plaza officially opens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside residents will now have more room to get together and enjoy the outdoors.

The second of two new pedestrian plazas opened in the neighborhood Friday afternoon at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, under the elevated No. 7 train.

Transformed from an underutilized underpass, the plaza includes tables, chairs and decorative plants. It was named Lowery Plaza after 40th Street’s original name, Lowery Street.

“The opening of Lowery Plaza is great news for Sunnyside residents,” Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall said. “This new local destination will significantly improve the life of residents and the vitality of local businesses in Sunnyside and Queens.”

The plaza is part of the DOT’s NYC Plaza Program and will be managed by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

Local elected officials, leaders and business owners cut the ribbon opening Lowery Plaza.

“This is something that the community is starving for, more open space and more space to come together as a community,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “The opening of this plaza on 40th Street, just like Bliss Plaza on 46th Street, is a sign of Sunnyside’s continued growth as a destination neighborhood for New Yorkers.”

In July, Bliss Plaza opened at the intersection of 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. The site also includes tables, chairs and planters. This project included leveling out a street to create a one-level pedestrian area

“We have received such positive feedback from community members and business owners about the success of Bliss Plaza, and I’m delighted to replicate this success at Lowery Plaza,” said Rachel Thieme, Sunnyside Shines BID executive director. “The plazas are fantastic neighborhood amenities and true gathering places in Sunnyside.”

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Sunnyside launches borough’s first ‘Bike Friendly Business District’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

The bicycle wheels are going round and round in Sunnyside.

On Saturday, the neighborhood became Queens’ first “Bike Friendly Business District.”

A Bike Friendly Business District is a system of businesses, cultural institutions, and community organizations dedicated to boosting safe bicycling, according to Transportation Alternatives.

The advocacy organization has established Bike Friendly Business Districts in the East Village, Lower East Side and along Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn.

“The launch of Sunnyside’s very own Bike Friendly Business District is an opportunity for our neighborhood to showcase its diversity as well as its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and cafes,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped launch the district with Transportation Alternatives, local business owners, cyclists and pedestrians. “Cyclists should come out to Sunnyside and shop at the over 70 participating businesses. As ridership climbs in our city, and the cycling infrastructure grows here in western Queens, Sunnyside hopes to capitalize by highlighting all we have to offer.”

Over 70 local businesses who support safer conditions for both cyclist and pedestrians will offer special commercial discount to members of Transportation Alternatives.

The business owners are looking to transform Queens Boulevard to include safe spaces for pedestrians, protected lanes for cyclists and dedicate lanes for buses.

“Designating Sunnyside as a Bike Friendly Business District means that we’re committed to making the neighborhood safe, accessible and fun for everyone,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

For a map of the Bike Friendly Business District and participating local businesses, click here.

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Sunnyside welcomes first of two public plazas


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

CHRIS BUMBACA

It’s pure bliss in Sunnyside.

Bliss Plaza, the first of two new public plazas constructed in Sunnyside, opened Tuesday. The project was spearheaded by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID).

Last year, the Sunnyside Shines BID submitted an application to the city’s Department of Transportation Plaza Program and with the support of local leaders such as Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the application was accepted this April.

“Bliss Plaza is an oasis for pedestrians along busy Queens Boulevard and will be a fantastic place to have an outdoor lunch,” said Rachel Thieme, Sunnyside Shines BID executive director. “This is a huge benefit to neighborhood residents and businesses. We are thrilled with the high quality of work that the NYC Department of Transportation has put into this project and extremely grateful to Councilman Van Bramer and our other partners for supporting our application.”

Bliss Plaza is located at the intersection of 46th Street and Queens Boulevard under the elevated No. 7 train. The plaza has transformed an otherwise useless underpass into a lively and public space. The area includes tables, chairs and decorative planters. The project included leveling out a street to create a one-level pedestrian area and was completed by the DOT in early July.

“I commend the city’s Department of Transportation for all the work it has done to make this new neighborhood plaza a reality and I thank the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District for initiating this project and for its commitment to maintaining the plaza and to providing the programming there,” Borough President Melinda Katz said.

The second plaza, the Lowery Plaza at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, is expected to open this fall. It will also be located under the No. 7 train and will have the same amenities as Bliss Plaza.

“These new public plazas have transformed the space under the 7 train with green space, ample seating and cultural programming,” Van Bramer said. “Tens of thousands pass these spaces every day but with these changes they will use them to meet friends, enjoy their neighborhood and create community.”

 

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Fifth annual music, art street festival coming to Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines

The streets of Sunnyside will be alive with the sound of music and art this summer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District will present its fifth annual free street festival called Sunnyside Summer Strolls on Saturday, July 26 and August 2.

Sunnyside Summer Strolls will bring together local businesses, residents and local organizations under the Sunnyside arch at 46th Street, which has been transformed into a temporary public space with tables and chairs, and scheduled activities.

“Sunnyside Summer Strolls is a great community event series, designed to promote our local businesses, bring arts programming to the neighborhood and provide a temporary public space for the day,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “We are excited to partner with Re-Create QNS to bring new energy and arts expertise to the event this year.”

On Saturday, July 26 is the Children’s Arts and Crafts Fair from 1 to 6 p.m., produced in partnership with Re-Create QNS, a new coalition of creative Sunnyside organizations. Activities include face painting, water marbling, ballet, Irish step, modern dance and performances by local musicians. Families will also have the opportunity to meet with artists and teachers of neighborhood arts and enrichment programs.


Photo by Michael Rapp

“Sunnyside is home to so many innovative and passionate arts groups,” said Nancy Kleaver, Re-Create Qns director. “Re-Create QNS wants to spread the word and make more connections between the public and our local cultural institutions. It will be a fun day for kids and families to be creative together.”

Under the elevated No. 7 train, the new Bliss Plaza will host a pop-up library in partnership with the Uni Project, the Sunnyside branch of the Queens Public Library and the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

The following Saturday,  from 2 to 7 p.m., will be the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert featuring a 1920s theme and lineup of jazz musicians and performers including The Sunnyside Wolverines featuring Linda Ipanema, The Sunnyside Social Club, The Pendulum Swings, The Sunnyside Drum Corps, and The Big Apple Lindy Hoppers.

There will also be a dance floor set up in the street, free photo booth and a 1920s costume contest. Local businesses will be on-site offering free giveaways and services.

For more information visit www.sunnysideshines.org.

 

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Sunnyside to get two new public plazas


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Artie Weiner

Sunnyside will soon have two new public spaces that residents can enjoy during the summer.

Last year, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) applied for the Department of Transportation’s NYC Plaza Program and early this month were notified that the applications were accepted.

“Through this innovative program, we will expand the amount of public space that is available to everyone in the community,” Councilman JimmyVan Bramer said. “I look forward to working with Sunnyside Shines BID, members of the community, and local arts groups to bring the space to life through a diverse array of public events, programming and cultural performances.”

The plazas will be located under the elevated No. 7 train line at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, and 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. Both locations currently are closed to vehicles.

The Sunnyside Shines BID will work as the nonprofit partner to maintain the plazas and program yearly community events and activities in it.

“As more and more New Yorkers come to know Sunnyside as a great place to live, work and play, I’m sure exciting announcements like the forthcoming public plazas will keep on coming,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

These two public plazas will receive improvements such as planters, benches and movable tables and chairs, in order to create public gathering places for the neighborhood.

“The NYC Plaza Program has done a tremendous job creating new usable, public spaces throughout the city, and we are thrilled to bring this innovative program to Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “We look forward to making these spaces more vibrant public places in the neighborhood.”

A community outreach meeting to go over design and programming options is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-13 39th St.

 

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Sunnyside Shines BID launches programs to help business district


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Michael Rapp

One local business improvement district (BID) is looking to help Sunnyside “shine.”

The Sunnyside Shines BID recently launched two major programs that aim to help improve businesses and the overall neighborhood of Sunnyside.

The first of the initiatives is the gate replacement program which will help businesses replace their solid metal gates with open grille gates. During the pilot program, up to five businesses within the BID will be able to recover half of the cost — up to $1,000 — of a new gate. The BID will be accepting applications for this program through April 15 and will review them at a first-come, first-served basis.

“We really hope to help improve the look and feel of the district,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “Sunnyside is a very safe district and we want the shopping district to reflect that. This is a great neighborhood and we want to help business.”

Thieme added that if this program goes well during the first year, the BID will look to help more businesses the following year.

The second initiative is one that hopes to attract new retail into the neighborhood.

Thanks to the City’s Department of Small Business Services’ Neighborhood Development Division, the BID has been matched with real estate consultant JGSC Group to look at how retail is doing in the neighborhood.

During one of the reports, it was found that residents spend close to $227 million each year outside of Sunnyside and also that the neighborhood has more businesses that offer services, rather than goods.

“Sunnyside residents spend on most of the goods and services outside the neighborhood and we want to capture some of that spending at our local businesses,” Thieme said. “We want to give people more reasons to shop locally.”

After conducting its own shopper survey last summer, the BID found that some of the type of retailers residents would like to see are clothing stores, housewares, more full service restaurants, independent coffee shops and a bike shop.

Thieme said the next step would be to send marketing tools to 200 retailers in the city that might want to come and open up shop in Sunnyside. The BID will also be posting available spaces throughout the neighborhood on the website.

For more information on either program or to fill out an application for the gate replacement, visit here.

 

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