This plaza was worth the wait!
Locals packed the newly built Fowler Square plaza in Fort Greene days after it opened last week, celebrating the end of a nearly 10-year project to transform an old, forgotten sliver of green space into a comfortable pedestrian refuge.
“It used to be kind of a wreck. Cars used to drive here, it was kind of a mishmash,” said Jon Eagan. “But now I can get food from any of the nearby restaurants, and plop down here and eat.”
The Department of Design and Construction wrapped up the project in late May, after breaking ground on the new triangular square bounded by Fulton Street, Lafayette Avenue, and S. Elliott Place in March 2017 — seven years after Fort Greene’s commerce-boosting group the Fulton Area Business Alliance received the local community board’s support for the plan in 2010.
The upgraded plaza now boasts a larger seating area with six new benches, 25 tables, and 75 chairs, along with a water fountain, seven newly planted trees, more light poles, and three additional crossing signals to help locals safely exit and enter the plaza from Fulton and Lafayette streets, according to officials. The city shuttered the stretch of S. Elliott Place bordering the plaza to traffic ahead of the redesign.
And the square’s namesake attraction — a statue of Brooklynite and Union Army General Edward Fowler, which stood there before the makeover — moved 24 feet in the process, so that it now sits in the center of the plaza, according to a Design and Construction Department rep.
Late last year, some shopkeepers with businesses near Fowler Square lamented the slow-going project, blasting its delayed debut as another source of congestion on Fulton Street, where the city in November green-lit a plan to install dedicated bus lanes through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill that also drew the merchants’ ire.
But the $2-million transformation was worth the time and frustration, according to the Fulton Area Business Alliance’s chief, who said the makeover resulted in an inviting space and the installation of new infrastructure such as pipes and drains that will reduce flooding that would otherwise damage area storefronts.
“It took six-to-eight months longer than expected [after breaking ground] — when you think about major capital projects, that’s not much,” said Phillip Kellogg. “It’s open, it’s beautiful, and the public is enjoying it. We’re thrilled.” — with Bobby Kirschenbaum