The long-awaited Brooklyn Bridge Plaza will connect two sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Work on what was supposed to have been the first section of Brooklyn Bridge Park to have been built will finally begin this fall — providing a direct connection between the park’s Brooklyn Heights-Fulton Ferry section and its DUMBO section at last.
At the present time, said Eric Landau, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, if someone is walking south through the DUMBO section and wants to get to the Heights-Fulton Ferry section, “they have to technically leave the park at Water Street, then come back.”
What’s currently separating the two parts of the park is a fenced-off lot under the Brooklyn Bridge. Replacing it will be a pedestrian plaza which, under the bridge, will be made up of concrete pavers designed to mirror the appearance of the bridge underneath so that someone looking down will get the same feeling as they do from looking at the bridge, Landau said. The new section will also include planting beds, and an adjacent lawn is slated to be reconfigured, he added.
Work on the new $8 million plaza is slated to begin this fall and be finished in December 2021. The money needed to construct the park is being provided by both the city and the state, including the Borough President’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, the state Economic Development Corp. and the City Council; as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park’s own capital reserve funds.
The project was given the go-ahead on Tuesday by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Any project that is in a landmark district on city-owned land needs to go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” Landau said. The fenced-in lot under the bridge is part of the Fulton Ferry Historic District.
Before the project went before Landmarks, Landau added, it was presented to the local Community Board 2, whose executive committee unanimously approved the plaza.
Before the park was developed, the site in question was occupied by the Purchase Building, a two-story 1930s era structure that, for a short time after 9-11, became the temporary home of the Office of Emergency Management. Although some preservationists wanted to save the Purchase Building, Brooklyn Bridge Park got approval from Landmarks to remove the building in 2008.
“This was originally supposed to be the first section to be built,” said Landau. However, after the old building was removed, the city got money from the Obama-era stimulus package.
The city Department of Transportation, which oversees the Brooklyn Bridge itself, asked the park if it could work on other parts of the park first because it was doing work on the bridge. And so, the first portion of the park to open to the public was at Pier 1, in 2010.
Several years ago, the DOT finally finished its work on the bridge, and Brooklyn Bridge Park was ready to proceed.
Like other portions of the park, the plaza was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. However, the park engaged in a collaborative process with Pratt Institute and the community.
“People are very excited that we are finishing the park,” Landau said.
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