AY Street Closures Could be Imminent

Getting around Downtown Brooklyn could get a little harder even before construction begins this year on the new Barclays Center Arena.

According to Department of Transportation coordinator Chris Hrones, Pacific Street, between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, and Fifth and Sixth avenues will be closed permanently, in addition to Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, to accommodate the $4 billion Atlantic Yards development project. Public transportation options will also change as a result of the street closures, forcing the elimination of the B63 bus stop on Fifth Avenue, between Pacific and Atlantic avenues.

“We’re willing to make changes if they make sense,” Hrones told a crowd of more than 100 local residents who attended a public meeting at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (85 South Oxford Street, Fort Greene) about the permanent and temporary street closures in Cobble Hill, Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn.

City officials had expected to implement the closures by February 1, but all changes have been suspended pending a decision by State Supreme Court Judge Abraham Gerges to proceed.

In the meantime, Councilmembers Steve Levin (D-Boerum Hill), Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) and Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) hosted the forum to elicit questions from community members about the street closures. The meeting, far more civil than prior public meetings regarding the project’s development, focused primarily on transportation issues.

Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz said he did not expect gridlock on Pacific Avenue, citing results from an earlier closure on Fourth Avenue above Atlantic, while Hrones noted the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) can close the streets at any time, after the judge’s decision.

“We would obviously encourage ESDC and FCR, as they’ve been doing up to this point, to provide reasonable notice,” said Hrones.

Levin used the forum to introduce constituents to several of his new staff members and encouraged open dialogue surrounding the project, while James and Lander urged more transparency and public engagement from Forest City Ratner, the ESDC, and the DOT as the project moves forward.