Brooklyn's grimy Fourth Avenue had it all: A destiny-altering residential rezoning, a crowd of developers armed with easy credit, and buyers thrilled to spend a little less and still be able to call themselves Park Slopers with a touch of confidence. But one real estate boom later, all the "Brooklyn's Park Avenue" promises and flashy renderings can't mask the fact that Fourth Avenue is still largely a desolate industrial speedway. But don't take our word for it, read it in today's Wall Street Journal, which sticks it to the building burst that has resulted in 859 new and planned apartments on Fourth Avenue since 2003. What's to blame for Fourth Ave.'s lackluster state? The buildings themselves!
The Journal makes the case that Fourth Avenue is still blechy because of the blank walls that most new condo buildings offer at ground level. These buildings have "done little to improve the character of the neighborhood or make it more pedestrian friendly because they have parking garages, air vents or concrete slabs at street level rather than shops and cafes, critics say." Adds the area's City Councilman, "Some of these cement walls turn their backs on the neighborhood and make it a much scarier place to walk." Sounds like someone's had a few late nights at Mission Dolores!
City planners tell the paper they didn't require developers to inject street-level life into their projects because they didn't want to stifle Fourth Avenue's expected meteoric growth, but oops, they've learned their lesson! They've been careful to consider retail in subsequent rezonings of Coney Island, West Chelsea, Jamaica and other neighborhoods, but c'mon, is a Chase bank really so different from air vents?
· A Foot-Friendly Fourth Remains Elusive [WSJ]
· Renderings Imagine What 'Brooklyn's Park Avenue' Might Look Like [Curbed]
[Photo via Gowanus Lounge.]