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Pelham Developer Creates Memorial For Victims Of Harlem Explosion

 Rella Fogliano
Rella Fogliano Photo Credit: Contributed

PELHAM, N.Y. -- Rella Fogliano of Pelham-based MacQuesten Development announced plans Wednesday to create a memorial for victims who died in the explosion that resulted from a gas leak in East Harlem in 2014.

The memorial will be displayed on the wall of an apartment building she owns and which abutted the Park Avenue buildings that were destroyed in the explosion.

“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.

For more information about MacQuesten Development, visit

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