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Albee darned! Square will get megabucks makeover

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The city will close the western end of DeKalb Avenue in order to nearly triple the Albee Square pedestrian plaza on Fulton Mall in Downtown, officials announced on Tuesday.

Officials from the Economic Development Corporation and Department of Transportation unveiled a $12.5-million design that would more than double the size of the neglected plaza at the triangular intersection of Fulton Mall, DeKalb Avenue and Bond Street — an area that will someday be the heart of a revived residential and commercial district that includes a Target mega-store and CityPoint, a 65-story residential and retail tower that will be the tallest building in the borough.

The Albee Square makeover will include new street furniture, public seating, bicycle racks, lighting and trees. The city hopes to start construction this winter, and finish by 2011.

The changes are part of larger Fulton Mall renovations, explained Chris Hrones, the city’s Downtown Brooklyn transportation coordinator.

“We’re going for a more modern look on Fulton Mall,” Hrones added, pointing to inclusion of new glass bus shelters and metallic Y-shaped lighting.

The plan would require the closure of a block-long portion of DeKalb Avenue between Gold and Bond streets west of Flatbush Avenue. One-way traffic on that part of DeKalb Avenue would be rerouted to Bond Street, then west on Fulton Street for one block and could then turn right onto Gold Street.

Community members were largely in support in the plan, although some were concerned about the effect on bus traffic, which would be rerouted to Fulton Street with no relocation of stops, Hrones said.

A landscape consultant who worked on the project, Mark Minkley, assured the audience that traffic congestion area would not overflow into the new space.

“This plaza will look very much like a plaza, and I guarantee it will not be used as a parking lot,” Minkley said.

There’s no question what side the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is on. Two years ago, the quasi-public agency put out a report that called for closing the one-block segment of DeKalb to “truly transform this space” or create a venue for events that would take advantage of the grandeur of the Dime Savings Bank building at the eastern side of the square.

The Department of Transportation will accept written comments until Dec. 17. Call (718) 222-7271 for info.

Updated 5:38 pm, November 20, 2008
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