Fourth Avenue has been wrecked by luxury developments and needs more affordable housing and beautification pronto, according to a Park Slope civic group that is calling on the city to help make the thoroughfare more livable for the average Joe.
The busy corridor that quickly morphed into a bar and restaurant strip with mid-rise housing after the 2003 rezoning of Park Slope lacks affordable digs and adequate street-level retail, partly due to construction of several 12-story condos, according to a survey by the Park Slope Civic Council. The group presented the findings, based on hundreds of interviews with Slopers, to a packed meeting at the Old Stone House on Tuesday night.
“You can’t undo some of the buildings that have been done — God knows I’d love to,” said SJ Avery, co-chair of the Fourth on Fourth Avenue committee. “We need to make sure that the expansion of Fourth Avenue does not come at the expense of people who have lived there for a while.”
The Civic Council hopes to collaborate with local politicians and activist groups such as the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership to combat the strip’s skyrocketing rents and make it safer for pedestrians and nicer looking. The gadflies are concerned about rents being raised by new luxury developments, such as the 75-apartment complex coming to the old McDonald’s site on Fourth Avenue near First Street.
“We want to protect the diversity that exists,” Avery said. “Some of it that has eroded already.”
The controversial rezoning of Park Slope over a decade ago protected low-rise residential streets from developers, but left Fourth Avenue between Union and 15th streets open for structures as high as 120 feet, creating eyesore towers with not enough retail, according to residents.
“People were allowed to build with virtually no restrictions,” Avery said.
Officials expressed support for the group’s push, echoing concerns that the thoroughfare is unsafe for walkers and is in desperate need of a green makeover.
“Our community has a lot of ideas about how to improve Fourth Avenue, including ways to increase pedestrian safety, introduce green infrastructure, and make the street more lively and livable,” Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) said. “There was large consensus that now is the time for action on Fourth Avenue.”