Plaza please! Locals want pedestrian-only area at Flatbush Junction

Plaza coming soon: The department of transportation may convert Hillel Place between Kenilworth Place and Flatbush Avenue into a permanent pedestrian plaza. The plaza will give locals a place to relax in the busy commercial area.
Brooklyn Daily
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The city may make the Flatbush Junction a little less harried.

Officials are considering making Hillel Place into a permanent pedestrian plaza between Flatbush Avenue and Kenilworth Place. Closing the street to traffic would create a needed public gathering place that will also help area shops, according to one local business leader.

“It will serve many functions and create an environment where people can spend more time on the corridor, resulting in increased revenue for our local businesses,” said Kenneth Mbonu, executive director of the Flatbush Junction Business Improvement District. “It will also be a place where people can meet and interact, because we don’t really have a park around here or a place to relax.”

Students from nearby nearby schools such as Brooklyn College Midwood High School and say they need a place to eat lunch, because area restaurants don’t cater to them, one pupil said.

“It’s a good idea — it’s like a hangout spot,” said Zaire Banberg, a student at Edward R. Murrow High School who hangs out with friends in the area. “When we sit inside the McDonald’s, they kick us out even if we purchased the food. Then we have to go sit down in the food court in Target, but that’s closed now.”

The Department of Transportation is on board because the project would make the junction more welcoming for walkers, an agency rep said.

“The department of transportation believes that a plaza at Hillel Place will enhance safety at this important retail and transit hub and create a vibrant community gathering space,” the spokeswoman said.

A portion of the two-block street between Campus Road and Kenilworth Place would remain open so drivers can access Kenilworth Place, which is one-way between Hillel Place and nearby Glenwood Road, according to officials.

The plaza had dry runs earlier this summer. The city closed the block in July for a local restaurant expo, and cultural mavens held a Caribbean-themed festival there to counter the violence at J’ouvert last month.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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