Trees will be here soon.
Article by Nicole LaRosa
The city and Borough President Marty Markowitz are taking steps to spend city money to improve, upgrade, cleanup and plant trees along Atlantic Avenue as well as Fourth Avenues in South Brooklyn, as the area continues its steady march toward a glossy, greener future.
Just this month, City Council voted in favor of the Atlantic Avenue BID (Business Improvement District). The district will cover Atlantic Avenue from the BQE to 4th Avenue, as well as one block north and south on all side streets. The $240,000 annual budget will pay for marketing, streetscape beautification, sanitation services and security.
And now, Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz is lobbying hard for the city to adopt a renovation, rezoning and greening plan for busy Fourth Avenue, on the border of Gowanus and Park Slope, calling the corridor the new, “Brooklyn Boulevard.”
“We are bringing together all of the elements needed to make Fourth Avenue what it was always intended to be: A majestic, user-friendly, economically viable and safe thoroughfare for all Brooklynites, New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy,” Markowitz said a public hearing this week.
Some upgrades are already underway for the avenue, while the rezoning still needs approval. Markowitz has allocated $2 million in Brooklyn capital funding for the city’s $100 million renovation of the dilapidated, graffiti-covered subway station at Fourth Avenue and 9th Street, where workers have already begun to restore the historic art-deco overpass that has become an eyesore in recent years.
Markowitz says hopes to see the avenue’s improvements extend to the entire six-mile stretch of Fourth Avenue, which would include not only Park Slope but Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.
More window-shopping and attractive, streamlined landscaping could all be in store for the busy corridor, now characterized by unsightly auto repair shops, messy bodegas and gas stations.
The city planning department held public hearings this week on Markowitz’s proposed Special Fourth Avenue Enhanced Commercial District, which includes new zoning regulations on 4th Ave. from Atlantic Avenue to 24th Street.
Recently 4th Avenue has seen several new condo buildings pop up along with bars and cafes. City planners hope to keep that trend going, mandating ground-floor retail space in any new development that fronts the avenue.
Gowanus/Slope resident Allyson Fisher, mom to a 5-year-old daughter, says she spends a little more time on Fourth Avenue since the Root Hill Café and Oaxaca Taqueria opened at the intersection of Fourth and Carroll. But for the most part she avoids the “unappealing” street.
“I’ll go out of my way to walk on Fifth Avenue with my child,” said Fisher, who lives between Fourth and Fifth, on Carroll.
Traffic improvements would improve the thoroughfare, she said, adding she’s in favor of more trees and retail. Fourth Avenue is also a dangerous street—it’s the site of several pedestrian deaths and accidents. Police say that people often underestimate how wide the avenue is and try to run across, and traffic on the avenue moves fast.
The Brooklyn Beep has appointed his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, to lead a task force on the project—which would include a newly expanded Times Plaza (the intersection of Fourth Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, and Flatbush Avenue). He’s also proposing to ban trade schools, business schools, and medical and dental labs from the ground floor spaces.
“I believe they don’t lend themselves to a lively and engaging environment,” he said.
The City Council is slated to vote on the project in January 2012.