Gov. Andrew Cuomo will invest $5.6 million to create new pedestrian crossings to connect Downtown areas separated by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
The elevated, cross-borough highway separates Downtown Brooklyn from Dumbo and residents of Fort Greene’s massive Ingersoll Houses from the Navy Yard and Commodore Barry Park, creating dicey street crossings and casting a literal shadow over much of the neighborhood.
The state cash infusion will help fund a $7.7 million project to open up the area by creating new, safer crossings at the busy intersections of Tillary and Navy streets and at Park Avenue and St. Edwards Streets, according to Cuomo’s number two.
“With funding from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, significant projects to improve walkability and safety will better connect Downtown Brooklyn and the Navy Yard to surrounding neighborhoods,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who announced the investment Wednesday.
The $5.6 million in state funding is part of Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative to help fund various city projects around the Downtown area, which include:
• $1.96 million in funding for a $15 million suite of upgrades for Commodore Barry Park, including new place spaces, renovated basketball and handball courts, and removing fencing to promote easy access.
• $1.25 million of funding for an $8.37 million project to transform Walt Whitman Library into a so-called “modern community hub,” featuring renovated and expanded programming spaces to support job training and other events.
• $1.5 million for a $2 million project to install new lights around the perimeter of the Farragut housing complex on Navy, York, and Sands streets.
• $853,700 for a $5.99 million project to renovate the Cumberland Street entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
• $600,000 to fully fund an arts project featuring local artists.
• $200,000 to create a digital tech center at the Ingersoll Community Center, featuring new computer equipment and furniture to support new jobs and arts programs.
The leader of a Downtown business group that applied for the $10 million grant applauded the governor’s investment, which they hope will connect Kings County’s business district with the Navy Yard’s expanding tech hub.
“Walkability and green space are essential to the continued growth of the area and these planned improvements will provide long-overdue connections from Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Navy Yard,” said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
The business group hopes to use the money to build momentum on a larger $200 million revitalization scheme dubbed the “Brooklyn Strand” plan, which Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced in 2014, and would construct a slate of parks and public spaces to make the Downtown area a more walkable place.