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Sunnyside Arch gets face−lift

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Sunnyside’s signature piece of architecture is shining once more after the neighborhood’s business improvement district refurbished it.

The Sunnyside Arch, built in 1983 by a local civic organization, had been in disrepair since the group disbanded about a decade ago. Now its Art Deco−inspired steel tubing has been repainted and the community’s name sits against a backdrop of baby blue instead of faded brown.

“The key of the arch is that it’s a symbol of the community,” said Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce board member Theresa Facciuto. “It’s not so much maintaining a piece of steel but maintaining the heart of Sunnyside.”

The sign, which towers about 20 feet above street level on 46th Street at Queens Boulevard, acts as a gateway to the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, which stretches along Queens Boulevard from 38th to 50th streets and as far south as Greenpoint Avenue.

The old bulb lights festooning the structure were removed, but will eventually be replaced with colored, programmable LED lights like those illuminating the top of the Empire State Building, Sunnyside Shines Executive Director Alyssa Bonilla said.

The arch was refurbished with $300,000 in funding from Borough President Helen Marshall and $150,000 from City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) for the planned business improvement district. Both officials announced the funds were available in 2005. State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D−Ridgewood) also contributed $50,000.

But the repairs were put on hold until the BID, which was set to administer the work, was ratified in 2007.

“For too long, the Sunnyside Arch was in a state of disrepair,” Gioia said. “It was a sign that maybe we weren’t in control of our future.”

Improvements began in 2008 when new trees were planted, benches were added and sections of 46th Street were repaved, Bonilla said, noting the group is also looking into the possibility of turning that block of 46th Street into a pedestrian plaza.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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