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Trading parking spots for potted plants

Dancing in the streets: The city is planning to turn part of this roadway on Broadway just west of Bedford Avenue into a pedestrian plaza similar to those in Times Square and Herald Square.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Some South Williamsburg residents are wary about a new pedestrian plaza the city plans for Broadway, saying it will make an already-hectic stretch of road even worse.

The city is planning the plaza along the stretch of Broadway just east of Bedford Avenue. It would turn part of the street into a triangular park area with chairs, benches and potted plants. The plaza would be named after George B. Post, the architect of the nearby Williamsburg Savings Bank, which is now being renovated into a hotel.

“It’s a very busy street and we already have backed up traffic because of all the deliveries and trucks and buses and trailers,” said Maria Fontanez, who works at Peter Luger, which is on the same corner. “I could see accidents happening.”

If the plaza goes through, it will not only take part of the street, but also nix seven parking spaces in an area where every space is prime real estate.

The city has reclaimed street space for a handful of pedestrian plazas in Brooklyn in the past couple of years, including Albee Square in downtown, Fowler Square in Fort Greene and Pearl Street in DUMBO. Some of those plazas, such as Fowler Square, brought the ire of drivers who complained that the pedestrian area would make driving a nightmare. Now, people who frequent the west end of Broadway are making the same predictions.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t see the demand for it,” said Community Board 1 member Simon Weiser. “The street has come a long way. We should leave it like it is.”

Not everyone is opposed to the plaza. Juan Martinez, general counsel of Transportation Alternatives, said he believed that the strip will not only make the area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, but that it will be better for business.

“When you make a space better for pedestrians, they come in greater numbers, shop more frequently and spend more money,” he said.

The city will present the plans to the community board next month.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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