Downtown makes a BID for a nicer landscape

Downtown makes a BID for a nicer landscape

An association of business owners have derided their Downtown stomping grounds as poorly lit, lacking in greenery and just generally unwelcoming — and now they plan to do something about it.

The Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn Business Improvement District unveiled this month an elaborate plan that would bring bike lanes, trees and improved lighting — and possibly even a new playground in what is now a parking lot.

The improvements will be centered on the aesthetically unremarkable area of Livingston, Court and Schermerhorn streets, along with Boerum Place.

“It’s traditionally a barren area with a lot of parking lots,” said Michael Burke, a member of the BID. “There is a lot of new development with residential and retail but it still has a hard feel. Lots of concrete, not a lot of green and in certain areas not a lot of light.”

So to remedy this, the district spent $100,000 for roughly 60 trees. The agency also beefed up an incentive program for businesses to change their steel shutters to see-through ones, which would add lighting to the street.

The BID expects to begin these improvements soon, and wants them to be installed by the end of the year, Burke said.

He added that the BID had the sketchy bike lanes on Jay Adams streets in its crosshairs as well.

“[Those streets] are areas where markings may be corrected,” Burke said. “This could range from repainting to physically delineating [the lanes] with a barrier.”

Another proposed improvement would change a parking lot at Hoyt and Schermerhorn streets to an “art park” — a space that would alleviate the need for a green play area near new residential buildings, Burke said.

“The owner of the parking lot is interested,” Burke noted. “The big issue is funding.”

Anticipating that some drivers will scoff at the notion of one less parking lot, Burke said the BID had assessed the amount of parking in the district, and that one less stretch of spaces would not make a major difference.

But Burke sought to draw attention to the immediate greening and brightening of the district, which he said is right around the corner.

“We want to implement this and do it quickly,” he said. “We have the money for a lot of it now.”