A business advocacy group unveiled a host of snazzy renderings that display a “pedestrianized” Downtown Brooklyn, and members are calling on the city to make its vision of America’s Downtown into a reality.
“Downtown Brooklyn has transformed into a true mixed-use community over the last 15 years, and with its population set to double in the next decade, now is the moment for a bold public realm vision that’s far more welcoming to pedestrians – from its streets to its plazas and parks,” said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
The renderings were created to show off the groups “Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision,” a scheme to expand pedestrian spaces in the borough’s business district by extending the city’s so-called Shared Streets program along Willoughby Street and its side streets between Boerum and Fleet places, an initiative the Department of Transportation debuted on a section of that thoroughfare and Pearl Street in September.
The organization wants to expand sidewalks along Schermerhorn, Livingston, and Adams streets and improve pedestrian crossings along Flatbush Avenue, Jay Street, and Adams Street.
Brooklyn’s original busway, the Fulton Mall, would be turned into a one-way street for buses with room for a dedicated bike lane, while east-bound buses would be moved to neighboring Livingston Street, according to the group.
In addition to making life easier for pedestrians, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership wants to add some four miles of green infrastructure, including planters, bioswales, and 900 new trees, in an effort to mitigate stormwater runoff and cool off the area, which is subject to the urban heat island effect, which causes metropolitan areas to become hotter than more suburban townships.
The renderings follow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s August announcement that he would invest $5.6 million to fund new pedestrian crossings to connect the business district to areas separated by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — including Dumbo, Fort Greene’s sprawling public housing complexes, the Navy Yard, and Commodore Barry Park — as part of the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said the agency has no immediate plans to expand their Shared Streets in Brooklyn, but said they are continuing to talk to local stakeholders.
“DOT is actively assessing the potential for additional Shared Street treatments citywide however, at this time, there are no immediate plans in Brooklyn,” said Lolita Avila. “We have an ongoing communication with stakeholders on Willoughby Street and plan to conduct broader outreach in 2020.”