A Downtown Brooklyn haven with pedestrian-friendly areas, public space and lots of greena proposal called the Brooklyn Strandstarted to crystallize Monday night at a meeting of Community Board 2, when WXY Architecture revealed its first renderings. The plans are a culmination of a year's worth of planning and working with neighbors to create proposals everyone likes. Many of the ideas stressed a need to create openness in an area that can feel claustrophobic. There was also a desire to use space under the Brooklyn Bridge for a market. "We want to rectify the mistakes of urban renewal," said Claire Weisz, a principal at WXY. "We want to create a sense of identity for the Strand so it doesn't feel like no man's land."
No matter how cool the renderings look, the project is still in the planning stages, so any real changes are still far off, with the real bureaucratic challenge of funding and coordination among city departments still ahead. But if all goes well, the neighborhood will see a 21-acre greenway connecting the waterfront to the courthouses to Columbus Park and the Borough Hall subway stop.
The war memorials in the areathe Korean War Memorial Plaza and Brooklyn War Memorialwere a centerpiece of the plan, with new bike access, more recreational space, and renovations to the memorials. Another major part of the design considered is what Brooklyn should feel like when pedestrians and drivers exit the Brooklyn Bridge. Weisz envisioned the gaps under the bridge as the perfect place for a marketplace.
The whole Brooklyn Strand concept originated out of a desire to transform dangerous intersections into parks and pedestrianized plazas, and empty, crumbling public spaces into actually appealing public spaces. Weisz and the community imagined areas like Commodore Barry Park being turned into a skate park or a place landscaped with rocks for recreational climbing.
"There are many opportunities to reimagine streets," Weisz said, mentioning that the European art collective Superflex helped them conceive ideas like this. "And that would become the brand of the Brooklyn Btrand."
Pedestrian areas on the streets in question would be widened to create plazas with furniture and areas for new businesses. Willoughby Square Park would be revived, the triangular BAM Park at Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue would reopen, and a new $1.4 million plaza called Fox Square would go up at the corner of Fulton and Flatbush. And the city would open up the ground floor of some city-owned buildings to add retail.
Residents during the meeting were pleased with the extensive presentation, but many said the area didn't need any more retail space. "There's such a desire to have programming and coffee shops," one neighbor said. "We don't need more coffee shops n Brooklyn. We're caffeinated enough."
Here's the entire presentation (warning:PDF!) Weisz made to CB2, featuring lots more renderings and details. Have look:
· Brooklyn Strand: Urban Design Action Plan [warning: PDF]
· Community Vision for the Brooklyn Strand Revealed [Downtown Brooklyn]
· Brooklyn's 21-Acre Greenway Gets Boost With Community Input [Curbed]
· All Brooklyn Strand coverage [Curbed]