Sitting pretty! Pedestrian plazas with chairs, benches, planters coming to W’burg

Trading parking spots for potted plants
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Pedestrians and bicyclists scored big in Williamsburg this week as two street plazas and a bounty of bike parking spaces won approval from Community Board 1.

The civic group narrowly voted in favor of the Department of Transportation’s plan to install a pedestrian plaza on Broadway just off of Bedford Avenue — greenlighting the proposal to turn add chairs, benches, and potted plants to a section of roadway despite concerns from some board members that it would attract nighttime revelers.

CB1 also signed off on a pedestrian plaza on Frost Street near Meeker Avenue. That bid to turn street space into public space was requested by David Shapiro, who is renovating the old Lorelei into a new restaurant, Kingbird, and said he wants to make the roadway less of an eyesore.

“It’s the ugliest street ever,” said Shapiro, who hopes to open Kingbird in May. “It’s not used and it’s all painted up and used incorrectly by dump trucks and sanitation trucks. My business is there and I don’t want to be staring at garbage trucks all day.”

Shapiro told the city he would pay for part of the construction and upkeep, which he plans to fund via a Kickstarter.com crowd-funding campaign. He said Tuesday night that he is unsure how much he will contribute, noting the figure will be determined by the design and city funding.

Board members cheered the painted pedestrian areas, saying that public places where North Brooklynites can spend time outside are desperately needed.

“This is one of the areas with the least open space in all of Brooklyn,” said board member Jason Otano. “Even though it’s not a patch of grass, it will provide people places to congregate.”

The community panel also approve turning car parking spots into bike parking at the corner of Driggs Avenue and Grand Street in front of the newly opened Williamsburg Cinemas movie theater, and on Broadway near the corner of Berry Street in front of Marlow and Sons. In both of those cases, the owners requested the corrals, which should fit about 36 bikes into two former car spaces.

“Biking is the future and people get angry when bicyclists park their bikes on fences,” said board member Ryan Kuonen. “If we want people to use bikes, we have to provide parking.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.