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Long-stalled Willoughby Square Park gets fresh renderings

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The 1.15-acre green space will have a play area, a dog park, a lawn, and several seating areas

A park with several green areas, trees, and people walking around. Renderings courtesy of NYCEDC and Hargreaves Jones

Back in July, the city unveiled a temporary pop-up version of the long-stalled Willoughby Square Park, a green space promised as part of Downtown Brooklyn’s 2004 rezoning. And this week, following the project’s revival (and in the midst of a legal hurdle), the New York City Economic Development Corporation revealed new renderings for the permanent park at a Brooklyn Community Board 2 meeting, Bklyner first reported.

The 1.15-acre space, designed and developed by landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Jones, will have a play area, a dog park, a lawn, several seating areas, and a walkway between Duffield Street and Albee Square West. Construction for the project is expected to go from September 2020 to September 2021.

The green space will also feature a permanent public art installation, The Pursuit of Freedom, which will allude to the neighborhood’s connection to the abolitionist movement. A nearby house with an abolitionist movement past, on 227 Duffield Street, may soon disappear and become a 13-story tower—the same house that, ironically, avoided being seized through eminent domain by the city in 2007, as they were looking to build the green space on Willoughby Street.

Promised 15 years ago and in the works since 2010, the project to build the green space between Gold and Duffield streets dramatically changed since the beginning of the year.

The initial version of the project included building a green space on top of an underground garage, but the garage was “financially unfeasible,” according to EDC. Those plans were scrapped when the EDC parted ways with the original developer, American Development Group in January.

EDC said the developer missed a January 27, 2019 deadline to secure funds for the project, negotiate an arrangement with a neighboring construction site, and finalize details with the group that would be in charge to operate the park. Following the project’s revival announcement, in May, the Long Island-based developer sued EDC, stating that officials worked to “sabotage” the project.