Parks officials on Thursday unveiled the designs for a brand new recreation center in East Flatbush, to be named for local trailblazer Shirley Chisholm.
Located within the Nostrand Playground on Farragut Place, between East 31st and East 32nd streets, the to-be-constructed Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center will include an indoor pool and public plaza, and serve as a hub for fitness, learning, and recreation, according to officials.
“Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer and remains a Flatbush icon – we’re proud to honor her legacy by opening a brand new, state-of-the-art recreation center in the neighborhood she served,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This center will serve as a hub for all of Central Brooklyn and bring resources and recreation space for a diverse range of activities to an area previously lacking a dedicated recreation center.”
Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black woman to run for president, represented Central Brooklyn in the nation’s capital from 1969 to 1983, and burnished a reputation as a fierce advocate for her community and for civil rights. She was the main force behind passing Title IX, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in educational funding, securing a minimum wage for domestic workers (then, and now, a group largely consisting of women of color), and was instrumental in making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday.
Chisholm’s stature has only grown since her retirement from politics and her death in 2005, and she is now one of the most celebrated figures in Brooklyn history.
The center is the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s second “Design-Build” project, emphasizing collaboration, efficiency and risk reduction to open facilities sooner. In this case, the Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center will be finished two years faster than with the old lowest bidder design-bid-build contracting method.
“This project honoring New York City hero Shirley Chisholm also serves as a showcase for how the City can build large projects faster and more efficiently,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “The new recreation center is part of DDC’s growing design-build program, and as a result of bringing designers and builders together working as one team we will build this project two full years faster than we could have under the old lowest bidder contracting method, where designers and builders don’t innovate together and are often in conflict.”
Foley said the Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center serves as the benchmark of a new era in construction across the five boroughs.
“We’re entering a new and exciting era of City construction when we’re actually going to get stuff done much faster and more efficiently, including infrastructure projects, though further reforms are needed,” he said.
The new rec center will be approximately 62,000 gross square feet, officials said, and will offer a host of programming options and amenities once it opens. The facility will feature multipurpose rooms, a gymnasium and walking track, an indoor swimming pool, fitness, strength, and cardio rooms, and a teaching kitchen. The Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center will also have a green roof and be LEED Gold certified.
The $141 million project was funded with capital dollars reallocated from the NYPD budget by then-New York City Bill de Blasio, in partnership with local Councilmember Farah Louis and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.
“Thank you to the Office of the Mayor for helping us make a more equitable city a reality,” Donoghue said.
The center will also include a kitchen where students can learn how to prepare healthy meals, space for senior programming, and a tech and business incubator named for the late Roy Hastick, president of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and an iconic booster of Brooklyn entrepreneurship and small businesses.