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Shrine of the times! War Memorial makeover could include cafe, rooftop terrace

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Hurry up and wait!

A proposed renovation of Cadman Plaza would reopen the Brooklyn War Memorial and add a visitor’s center, cafe, and rooftop terrace to the long-shuttered shrine — but only if local leaders can scrounge up $12 million to make it happen. And local war veterans say they sure hope that will be sometime soon, or they won’t be around to see it.

“I can’t wait — I hope I’m alive to see it open,” said Fort Greene resident Roy Vanasco, who served in the Navy during World War II.

Local officials and community groups last week revealed their proposal for the rehab of the massive shrine, which contains a monument hall sporting names of the more than 11,500 Brooklynites who fell in the war but has been largely closed to the public for the past 25 years.

In addition to sprucing up and reopening the hall, the proffered revamp would transform the entire structure into a community hub, adding a visitors center, eatery, and exhibition center to the lower level of the complex, and a rooftop terrace and event space on top — which people could rent out for weddings and seminars — according to Cadman Park lovers.

“The overall goal is to create a self-sufficient civic center,” said Toba Potosky, president of community group the Cadman Park Conservancy, which unveiled the proposal along with Borough President Adams and business group the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

But the plan estimates the entire project will cost $11.8 million dollars, which isn’t in the bank right now. Borough President Adams allocated $1 million to the facelift earlier this year, but other politicians and private businesses will need to kick in the rest, according to a Borough Hall spokesman.

The conservancy attempted to crowdfund $1.5 million towards fixing up part of the memorial in May, but donors have only pledged around $4,000 so far.

Various city agencies will still need to approve the designs before they go ahead.

The memorial makeover is just one proposal for the city’s larger “Brooklyn Strand” project that seeks to connect and overhaul the disparate parks, plazas, and other green spaces between Borough Hall and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Neighborhood residents and organizations brainstormed their ideas in workshops with architecture firm WXY, which then drew up the plans for the memorial and other green spaces.

Other ideas include closing Cadman Plaza East between the Korean War Memorial and the Post Office and turning it into a public space with zany seating, installing cafes and stores under the Brooklyn Bridge, and transforming the tip of Cadman Plaza into a big hill leading to a walkway over the bridge.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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Reasonable discourse

Ursula from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Don't hold your breath. Rooftop café on the War Memorial??? Years ago, then BP Markowitz proposed a café for the shuttered park building at the Southeast corner of Cadman Park (Tillary/Cadman Plaza East), and it's been years since a detailed plan for a space-age restroom outside the Tillary Street park entrance was shown to the public. To date: Nil.
Nov. 17, 2015, 2:16 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
I hope they eliminate all the rats around and under the building before opening an eatery or cafe.
Nov. 18, 2015, 7:51 pm

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