Pedestrian plaza planned for Clove Road in Crown Heights

Clove road
This neglected alley will one day be a pedestrian plaza.
Photo by Ben Verde

City transit bigwigs are planning to build a sprawling pedestrian plaza along the historic Clove Road in Crown Heights — an obscure block-long street made of stone and dirt that has fallen into ruin after years of neglect. 

The Department of Transportation will fix up the roadway that connects Montgomery Street and Empire Boulevard, which comes as a local business owner is planning to erect a shiny new development adjacent to the planned plaza.

“This is a dream that I have had for many many years, since 1984 when I first purchased that property,” Karl Cohen told Community Board 9’s Transportation Committee on Dec. 2. “My vision is really to make it into a state of the art park, and a state of the art building as well.”

Cohen’s building at the corner of Montgomery and Clove will include an eatery on the ground floor facing the new outdoor common area, along with a 1600 square foot museum of African art and a community event space, he said. 

Building management will be responsible for upkeep of the area immediately outside the building, while DOT workers will maintain the rest of the plaza, according to transportation officials.

City reps have yet to finalize details on the exact design or cost for the future Clove Road construction, but officials promised neighbors that it would include standard materials such as moveable cafe tables and planters. 

A representative of the architecture firm responsible for designing Cohen’s new building said they would also preserve the historic Belgian Block stones currently exposed on the alley.

Currently, the alley — which has a rich history as a part of a colonial-era road system — is nothing more than a neglected strip behind a supermarket and an empty lot, and is full of illegally parked cars, overgrown weeds, and potholes. 

In the future, however, the thoroughfare will provide an open space for locals to find fresh air and community congregation amid an area in central Brooklyn that is largely devoid of public space, said DOT rep Jessica Cronstein.

“We see plazas as an opportunity to build community,” she said.

Officials are aiming to start by the Summer of 2022, with the intention of wrapping construction on the space in 2023, Cronstein said. 

The department currently maintains 65 pedestrian plazas across the city, with an additional 17 under construction — many of which came as part of a Bloomberg administration program to construct livable outdoor space in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods with less than adequate access to parks and other public areas.