Vander-rific! Avenue to be closed to cars in June

The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a piazza party in Prospect Heights!

Vanderbilt Avenue will become the latest stretch of mean street to become a pedestrian plaza, closing to automotive traffic every Sunday in June.

The city will shut down a four-block section of the boulevard between Bergen Street and Park Place between noon and 5 pm on June 7, 14, 21 and 28, turning the street over to Heights residents for recreation, leisure, and shopping.

“This is going to be great for everybody,” said Danae Oratowski, who is organizing the “Summer Streets” program with the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Vanderbilt Avenue Merchants District, and the Department of Transportation. “It’s about bringing the community together and offering some innovative open space.”

When Vanderbilt Avenue is closed, Heights residents will have the chance to relax at café tables in the middle of the street, listen to live music, ride bikes in any lane they choose, peruse the wares of Vanderbilt shops, help clean tree pits, or attend a fashion show. Organizers are also planning face painting and a chalk mural project for children.

Some neighborhood merchants are looking forward to the Sunday events, staking out different territory from some of the counterparts in Williamsburg who opposed a similar street closure program there.

“It’s going to be a pretty well-rounded thing, but it’s not a street fair. There will be no tube socks and sausage and pepper guys — just the homegrown merchants,” said Steve Commender, owner of the Forest Floor, a flower shop. “It will give us a chance to utilize the street in a way a little bit out of the ordinary.”

Vanderbilt Avenue isn’t the first thoroughfare to experiment with summertime street closings.

Last year, both Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights were turned into temporary open space for pedestrians.

“Williamsburg Walks” will return this summer, but it remains uncertain if the Montague Street event will be held this summer, organizers told The Brooklyn Paper.

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