Road to riches: Mytle Ave. entrepreneurs brace for flush future with opening of plaza

Road to riches: Mytle Ave. entrepreneurs brace for flush future with opening of plaza
Samuel Stuart

They’re ready for this pavement to pay off!

Clinton Hill business owners are hoping last month’s long-awaited debut of an inviting pedestrian plaza along Myrtle Avenue will jump-start commerce on the stretch, after roughly four years of construction slowed sales at many stores, and forced some to close their doors altogether, according to one shopkeep.

“We’re still trying to recapture those sales from before,” said Tamara Browne, a manager at arts-supply store Blick at 536 Myrtle Ave. “A lot of people didn’t know we were open because the area was gated off and they couldn’t see our signage — it took a toll on us.”

But Browne, who said she’s already started to see an uptick in profits since the Myrtle Avenue Plaza between Hall Street and Emerson Place opened on June 21, believes the public space’s arrival, along with other developments in the neighborhood, will put local businesses back in the black as more and more people flock to the area.

“With new buildings opening and being built in the area, I think it will [improve],” she said. “That’s how it’s trending.”

Contractors broke ground on the $7-million project in 2014 — one year after officials, who unveiled the plan in 2011, originally said it would be finished, and roughly seven years after business-booster the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership first dreamt up the idea for the space in 2007.

And now, a paved, greenery-lined thoroughfare furnished with benches and tables occupies the two blocks where an old service road between Emerson Place and Grand Avenue once ran, and stretches all the way to Hall Street, featuring more new trees, seating, and a massive sculpture by New York City-based artist Matthew Geller along the way.

Stop and shop: Local business owners, including art store Blick, are hoping the new plaza boosts foot traffic and increases sales.
Samuel Stuart

Another entrepreneur with a store along the avenue said she’s optimistic an influx of Clinton Hillers to the plaza will boost sales at her wine shop.

“I think it’s going to get better for sure,” said Karin Holm Torres, who owns Corkscrew Wines at 489 Myrtle Ave. “The plaza is bringing people to the avenue, people that wouldn’t normally take this road.”

The Department of Transportation coughed up most of the cash for the project, with former Clinton Hill Councilwoman Tish James — now the city’s public advocate, who recently launched a campaign for state attorney general — and ex-Borough President Markowitz chipping in some funds, according to the partnership, whose leader said the plaza will feature events such as concerts, workout classes, and children’s festivities as a treat for locals who suffered through its slow-going creation.

“The construction period was long and difficult, and we’re excited to recreate this space with activities and programs that will actually help bring people to Myrtle Avenue,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida.

Fitness fanatics can attend exercise sessions on Monday mornings from 7 to 8 am through Sept. 10; kids can enjoy a variety of activities on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:30 am through July 24; music fans can listen to live acts on Wednesdays through Sept. 19; and locals can bid farewell to summer at two end-of-season events on the plaza on Sept. 21, according to information from the partnership.

Visit myrtleavenue.org/summer for more information, including timing, on specific events at Myrtle Avenue Plaza this summer.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Sit back and relax: Locals can enjoy lunch along Myrtle Avenue on the newly opened plaza.
Samuel Stuart