A popular hipster market is moving to Williamsburg Park this year, just down the street from its previous location.
Brooklyn Flea opted for the park at 50 Kent Ave., between N. 11th and N. 12th streets, as a last-ditch effort to stay in the neighborhood after the state declined to renew its contract at East River State Park.
“We needed somewhere to go and we did not have a lot of choice,” said Brooklyn Flea co-owner Eric Denby. “But we are super excited about it.”
Last year, the Flea took place on Sundays, while Smorgasburg, a foodie fair run by the same people, was held on Saturdays. Some neighbors were angry that the public park was overtaken by a commercial venture every weekend and asked the state to bar the events. As a compromise, this year the state allowed Smorgasburg to remain in East River State Park on Saturdays, but said the Flea had to find a different venue.
A neighbor said he was relieved to have the greensward returned to its previous calm, if only for half the weekend.
“Sundays are definitely much more relaxing without all the commercial activity,” said John Burkan, who lives on N. Eighth Street and was one of the most vocal opponents of the capitalist gatherings.
Unlike the East River State Park, Williamsburg Park is a big, fenced-in slab that can accommodate a stage, not an actual recreational park, so shoppers will not be disrupting any would-be sun worshippers or coffee-and-a-book types. The Flea should also run more smoothly at the space because it has side-street loading and no residential neighbors, according to Ed Janoff, who runs the Open Space Alliance and is head of city parks in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
The market will run every Sunday at the park from this weekend until Labor Day. This will cut significantly into the Brooklyn Flea’s usual run, which has traditionally ended in late November.
This is the first year that the Open Space Alliance has scheduled programming in Williamsburg Park that will extend beyond concerts. This summer the group has planned a variety of activities including a movie series, a bicycle education center, and a pop-up roller rink.
“We are trying to make 50 Kent more of a full-destination with a bunch of activities going at the same time,” said Janoff.