City: Boro Hall bluestone should be taken for granite • Brooklyn Paper

City: Boro Hall bluestone should be taken for granite

Watch out!: Bluestone expert Lascell Edwards, a contractor with LaBeta Construction, says the plaza in front of Borough Hall is a mine field of sidewalk violations.
Photo by Jaime Lutz

The city is cobbling together a plan to replace the historic-but-crumbling bluestone plaza in front of Borough Hall with sturdier granite blocks.

The Parks Department hopes to roll out the new rocks in a makeover estimated to cost between $8.5 and $9.5 million after years of playing catch-up plugging gaping cracks and crevasses in the bluestone using tinted concrete.

“[We] are looking to use ‘blue mist’ granite, which holds up better than bluestone,” said Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson.

The proposed move from bluestone — a type of sandstone commonly used in outdoor pavings — to granite — an igneous rock praised for its durability — is a seismic shift for the borough’s the front yard.

Parts of the current paving belong to the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, meaning the changes would require the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The department is still seeking funding for the project, which would give an overhaul to the crumbling pedestrian expanse riddled with so many potholes that it can feel like crossing a minefield.

Fixing those holes — which have caused trip-and-falls and lawsuits — is a top priority, according to Borough President Markowitz, whose previously rock-solid support for bluestone in the plaza has apparently started to erode.

“Whatever material is ultimately used — whether bluestone or an acceptable alternative that is both durable and preserves the historic ambience of Borough Hall — the renovation needs to be done as quickly as possible,” said Markowitz’s spokesman Mark Zustovich. “For far too long, conditions outside Borough Hall have deteriorated — posing a safety issue to pedestrians who use the Plaza and walkways surrounding the building.”

Zustovich did say, however, that bluestone remains the Beep’s preference.

Even neighborhood watchdog Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, said she wouldn’t oppose the switch to granite, as long as it’s tasteful.

“I was unaware that the bluestone was going to be changed, but I do agree that the existing sidewalk and plaza is in poor condition,” she said. “I will look forward to hearing what the Landmarks Commission has to say about the proposed granite.”

Subbing out the bluestone for “blue mist” granite is a costly procedure, but repairing all of the cracked stones wouldn’t be cheap, according to one bluestone expert.

“The majority of the bluestone throughout the inspected location is in grave disrepair and in need of replacement,” said Lascell Edwards, a contractor with LaVeta Construction, who estimated plaza-wide repairs would cost about $2.85 million. “The current conditions are in violation of safety standards, which would prove hazardous to the public.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.

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