Brooklyn stakeholder groups announce community vision for the Brooklyn Strand
A coalition of more than 40 local Brooklyn community groups on Friday announced a new vision for the Brooklyn Strand, the nearly 50 acres of public space and city-owned land that connects Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The vision — a community-driven response to Mayor de Blasio’s call for a plan to reinvent the area — lays out a comprehensive series of recommendations to the city for how to transform the quality of these public spaces, better connect people in surrounding neighborhoods, and make the waterfront more accessible between Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
“By design the Brooklyn Strand plan is an opportunity to adapt 1950s-era infrastructure into a new vision for true connectivity and accessibility between downtown Brooklyn, its neighborhoods and the waterfront,” says Claire Weisz, FAIA, architect and urbanist who co-founded WXY architecture + urban design. “The Brooklyn Strand plan transforms leftover spaces from expressway plans that cut off neighborhoods, turning them into into public spaces that connect people.”
In July 2014, de Blasio announced a series of initiatives meant to further the successful growth of Downtown Brooklyn. One of these was to transform the Brooklyn Strand, currently a series of disconnected parks, plazas and greenways, into a grand promenade and gateway to Brooklyn. Over the course of the last two years, 250 community stakeholders — including residents, community groups, business leaders, elected officials and numerous city agencies, that included Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation — were led by WXY Architecture + Urban Design through an intensive planning process that included 50 site walkthroughs, numerous meetings and several public workshops to create this vision.
“This was truly a herculean effort and the resulting vision reflects the thoughtfulness and deep commitment of our community to this endeavor,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “The Brooklyn Strand is a vital component of the area’s growth, not only by building better connections for its residents, but through the creation of much needed public space and neighborhood amenities befitting our beloved borough.”
“The Brooklyn Strand Community Vision Plan is an exciting and ambitious effort to reconnect Downtown Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods to each other, reinvigorate open space and improve access to the waterfront,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “The plan is the result of an extensive and collaborative community engagement process, and it provides a promising roadmap to the future for this historic business district. At NYCEDC, we look forward to continuing our work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, community stakeholders and elected leaders, and to making the reinvigoration of the Brooklyn Strand a reality.”
Recommendations from the Brooklyn Strand Community Vision include:
• Stronger connections between and improved quality of the existing series of parks, plazas and open spaces throughout the Brooklyn Strand study area, including Borough Hall Park, Columbus Park, Korean War Veterans Memorial Plaza, Cadman Plaza, Commodore Barry Park, the Bridge Parks and Trinity Park, among others.
• Reopening of the long-closed Brooklyn War Memorial to the public.
• A new “Gateway to Brooklyn” off the Brooklyn Bridge, featuring an iconic viewing platform that leads directly from the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian path onto regraded park space and a new shared street plaza underneath the Bridge.
• Creation of a permanent market at Anchorage Plaza to provide increased opportunities to local business and a new civic commons connecting Downtown Brooklyn and surrounding communities to the waterfront.
• Improvements to Commodore Barry Park and better pedestrian connections for residents of NYCHA to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the waterfront.
• Improve connections across surrounding neighborhoods by examining opportunities to realign portions of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) ramps (including the large and completely disconnected area north of Trinity Park and the BQE interchange at Tillary Street, Navy Street and Park Avenue).
• The widening of sidewalks to promote pedestrian activity and to enhance bike networks.
• Installation of innovative public art throughout the Brooklyn Strand to animate and link underused public spaces while demonstrating the Strand’s potential to a larger audience.
The project has already received a major boost from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. In July 2015, Adams allocated $1 million toward re-opening the Brooklyn War Memorial and another $500,000 to help transform park space between Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The plan announced Friday will now be sent for thorough review by city agencies and has already received widespread praise and support from local community groups and elected and city officials.
The Brooklyn Strand is a grand but pragmatic vision for the future of Downtown Brooklyn’s public realm. Building on the tremendous success of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and addressing many of the challenges created by post World War II urban renewal, it brings transformative public space to the entire Downtown area.
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