Is the fix in for Flatbush?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Someone wants to fix Flatbush Avenue? Good luck with that.

Put aside the knee-jerk cynicism because the North Flatbush Business Improvement District has hired a Manhattan landscape-architecture firm to give a facelift to the shabby strip between Grand Army Plaza and Atlantic Avenue.

“We want to make [Flatbush Avenue] look more ‘small-town main street,’” said Sharon Davidson, the vice president of the BID, which hired W Architecture and Landscape Architecture on March 9 with a $25,000 grant from the city.

“We want to put in more seating areas, green spaces, trees and plazas.”

The problems with Flatbush Avenue are legion: not only is it the borough’s main roadway to Manhattan, but its narrow sidewalks, gritty stores, subway vents and awkward, angled intersections have foiled urban planners for decades.

Barbara Wilks, the firm’s head architect, said it’s too early to know what the fix will be, but the firm will submit its proposals later this year.

In the meantime, business owners are cautiously optimistic.

“It can’t hurt,” said Martin Gobbee, who is the manager at Franny’s, a pizzeria between St. Marks and Prospect places. “It’s sad to see all the storefronts shuttered up, and I think something like this would definitely help.”

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Reader Feedback

Pat from Bay Ridge says:
Sounds great to me. New York is sorely lacking amenities like benches and plazas that are taken for granted in other world-class cities.
March 20, 2009, 1:15 pm
j mork from p hts says:
If the bridge tolls come through, it could be great for Flatbush. It would encourage more people to take the more highway-oriented Battery Tunnel. Maybe we could even narrow the roadway, and put in wider sidewalks or even bike lanes.
March 20, 2009, 10:24 pm
Steve from Bushwick says:
What's wrong with 'gritty stores'? Does that mean their customers aren't wealthy enough for someone's taste?
March 21, 2009, 11:03 am
BergenMan from Prospect Heights says:
One correction - Flatbush has the widest sidewalks in the neighborhood.
March 23, 2009, 6:58 pm

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