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Vendors return to Corona Plaza in Queens, this time with a license

Newly licensed vendors return to Corona Plaza in Queens
Newly licensed vendors return to Corona Plaza in Queens 02:25

NEW YORK - Complaints about unlicensed vendors creating unsanitary conditions and fueling crime around Corona Plaza led the city to shut down sales.  

Newly licensed, regulated vendors returned Wednesday. 

"Very, very happy," Teresa Carpio, owner of Variedades Kalor, said.

Carpio was one of several vendors setting up shop again at Corona Plaza in Queens. About four months ago, the city forced vendors out after receiving 78 complaints about illegal vending, and after Mayor Eric Adams stopped by. 

"There was illegal vending and just dangerous food service," Adams said when he visited in August. "Then I walked along Roosevelt Avenue under the L line, and it was clear. There was open prostitution ... It was just filthy."

Wednesday, the plaza looked much different: Cleaner, more organized, with fewer vendors. It's part of the city's plan for the first-ever regulated community vending at Corona Plaza. The plan is the work of numerous city agencies, local officials and community groups. 

"To finally come to a resolution to make sure our street vendors, our community members can get back to work," Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said.

Street Vendor Project Deputy Director Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez said the four-month shutdown devastated vendors economically. 

"These are folks who live and work in the community, who are raising their families here. It's primarily immigrant women," she said. 

Kaufman-Gutierrez helped translate a conversation with vendor Rosario Troncoso. 

"A little nervous but very excited to be back, because it feels like we really won and achieved our goals of being back here," Troncoso said. 

The city's plan includes management by a third party; for the next four months, the Queens Economic Development Corporation holds the permit. 

"Every vendor here is licensed and registered with the city," QEDC executive director Seth Bornstein said. 

The corporation hired market managers tasked with maintaining order. Sunny Hendre got the job. He grew up in the area and knew what it was called before the overhaul. 

"We call it the Wild West," Hendre said. "It was crazy. There was just a lot of vendors, there was absolutely no regulation... This is the new Corona Plaza. This is a street market for, by, and of the community." 

In about a month, food vendors licensed by the Board of Health will join those set up Wednesday.

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