MacQuesten Development Plans Living Memorial to Those Who Perished in 2014 East-Harlem Gas Explosion

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Memorial Expected to Be Completed This June

A year after an explosion caused by a gas leak in East Harlem killed eight people and injured dozens, developer Rella Fogliano of MacQuesten Development wants to keep alive the memory of those who perished in the tragedy.

Fogliano announced plans today to create a memorial on the wall of an apartment building she owns which directly abutted the Park Avenue buildings that were destroyed in the explosion. The memorial would be a green wall of plantings.

“This will be a living memorial that will continue growing to keep alive the memory of those who were lost in the tragedy,” said Fogliano, a leading developer of middle-income and affordable housing. “I did everything I could to help the tenants of my building, but I knew that I also wanted to create something that will live on so that we never forget those from the destroyed buildings who are no longer with us.”

The memorial, which would be created on a wall of the Olga Mendez Apartments, is expected to be completed in June of this year.

Fogliano was deeply affected by the tragic explosion which occurred March 12, 2014. While the Olga Mendez Apartments were not structurally impaired by the explosion, they did suffer damages and tenants were forced to leave temporarily.

Fogliano devoted herself to helping the tenants in her buildings endure the ordeal as best as possible. She made $1.5 million in initial repairs even before insurance claims were settled, to enable tenants to move back in within three weeks.

She also gave displaced families American Express gift cards to help them with expenses. Fogliano then used the proceeds from the insurance reimbursement to upgrade the units from carpeting to new sustainable wood flooring and to make other building system and utility upgrades despite the option of simply replacing and repairing with “like kind” materials and systems.

In addition, while residents waited for gas service to be restored, Fogliano gave them electric stove tops to use. She hired 24-hour security to guard the lobby areas while the intercoms were repaired. “At MacQuesten, we did everything we could to lessen the burden of this horrible accident that affected so many lives,” she said.

For more information about MacQuesten Development, visit

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Dean Bender
Thompson & Bender
+1 914-762-1900 Ext: 13
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