Urban-renewal park in Fort Greene up for urban renewal

Urban-renewal park in Fort Greene up for urban renewal
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A long-padlocked Fort Greene park could reopen thanks to a city push to make it safe to hang out in once more.

BAM Park, bounded by Lafayette Avenue and Fulton and Saint Felix streets, has been closed to the public for nine years due to unstable ground, but plans to open it back up are finally moving forward. Mayor DeBlasio announced in mid-July that his administration would pursue fixing up the green-space. The pro-business Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is eager to lend a hand.

“To take back a park that was literally shuttered for so long is really great,” said Andrew Kalish, director of cultural development for the Partnership.

The overgrown park sits above the Fulton G station and around the corner from the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Peter Jay Sharp building, but despite the park’s name, the cultural institution is not involved with its upkeep. The site is owned by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which acquired it as part of an urban renewal program in the early 1980s. The buildings that once stood there had already been torn down when the department took over and designated the spot as a park. In recent years the ground beneath the park became dangerously unstable and the city locked it up.

The lot is sinking and isn’t safe to be in, a spokesman for the housing department said.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership recently selected an architect to re-design the park, according to the mayor’s office, and raised $2 million from the pro-development Empire State Development Corporation to add to money allocated by Public Advocate Letitia James when she was the neighborhood’s councilwoman, according to the housing department.

Sitting on a triangular block between Fort Greene’s brownstone blocks and the venues that make up the so-called “Brooklyn Cultural District”, the padlocked green triangle’s unkempt foliage stands in contrast to the lively, well-groomed, and also triangular Fowler Square directly across the diagonal intersection.

“We’re really excited to have one more grand entrance to the cultural district,” Kalish said. “And to finish the other side of the bow tie.”

There is not yet a timetable for the project, but the parks department has agreed to take over the site when its done, the housing department spokesman said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Getting their locks off: The city says the park at Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street will reopen to the public soon, but that it doesn’t know when.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham