Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City’s land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art.
It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn’s polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding.
It has been a bumpy road for Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards development. The ten-year project-in-the-making is in the news yet again. According to the New York Times, 50 to 80 percent of Atlantic Yards is now up for grabs. Developer Bruce C. Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies is on the hunt for an investor to buy the lion’s share of the development for a hefty sum of up to $800 million. Forest City would still hold the reigns over the future development of the project.
In recent years, Brooklyn’s waterfront has morphed into a breeding ground for start-ups, tech agencies, and boutique manufacturing. Now the massive Industry City complex in Sunset Park could emerge as the next creative hub in the borough joining other booming neighborhoods to the north such as DUMBO, the Navy Yard, and Williamsburg. Crain’s reported that Jamestown Properties, a real estate management and investment company, which owns Chelsea Market and the Milk Studios Building in Manhattan, is teaming up with Angelo Gordon and Belvedere Capital to purchase the sprawling 6.5 million-square-foot Industry City site.
David Ehrenberg has been appointed president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre, former ship-building base turned city-owned industrial park. Ehrenberg is currently an executive vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Over the last decade the Navy Yard has emerged as an essential zone for preserving and growing New York’s manufacturing sector, especially small businesses. The Yard currently includes 4.5 million square feet of leasable space, with an occupancy rate of 99 percent.
On the roof of a construction site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn Monday, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the release of a new report outlining 69 rebuilding strategies designed to both help Hurricane Sandy–ravaged communities and to serve as a model for coastal regions across the country that are vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels. Close to the waterfront, the site overlooked the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant—one of the few sewage treatment facilities to survive Sandy intact. It was a fitting place for Secretary Donovan, who also serves as chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, to introduce this bundle of new recommendations that address both immediate and long-term needs of coastal communities, including resilient and region-wide approaches to rebuilding and infrastructure investment. A number of the initiatives in the report, such as HUD’s “Rebuild by Design” competition, are already underway.
With one location in Midtown East and another in Murray Hill, Pod Hotel is planning to build a third outpost in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Capital New York reported. The hip hotel chain has hired prominent prefab proponents Garrison Architects to design their newest location, which will be built using modular construction. According to Curbed, the proposed mixed-use development will be located on a 100,000 square foot site at the corner of Driggs Avenue and North 4th Street and include over 200 guest rooms, as well as retail, a restaurant and bar, roof garden, roof terrace bar and a series of courtyards.
Since the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) was constructed nearly 70 years ago, the inelegant thruway has callously split apart neighborhoods, leaving beneath it deserted stretches, visually unappealing and often vulnerable to crime. DNA Info reported that Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is trying to revive one such blighted area in the Wallabout district of Clinton Hill. The strip right at Steuben Street and Park Avenue, which has been a site for dumping illegal trash, could soon host a farmer’s market, public art, dog run, and live music. The partnership is proposing a range of uses and looking to collaborate with local businesses—such as the creators of the now defunct DeKalb Market—to help bring activities and services to the area.
The effort to revamp the inhospitable corridor beneath the BQE has been part of an ongoing endeavor that has involved a number of organizations, spearheaded by the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP). MARP launched a planning initiative in 2009 utilizing experimental art collective, raumlaborberlin’s Spacebuster, and partnering with local institution Pratt Institute’s Planning Department to hold mini-visioning workshops. Later MARP partnered with Architecture for Humanity New York (AFHNY) to work on a 2-year planning effort called “Under the BQE” that helped to engage the community and re-imagine new uses for the spaces in addition to creating a plan to improve pedestrian and traffic safety.
First the partnership needs some funding to jump start any changes to the space. They are currently hoping to receive a NYCDOT Public Plaza grant. A wining application will be selected by January 2014.
Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the “Waterfront of Tomorrow Act,” to protect and fortify New York City’s 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city’s needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, architects have been called to arms to both engage in the immediate recovery efforts and to come up with design solutions that will make New York City’s buildings more resilient and sustainable in the long-term. The latest in a flood of new Sandy-inspired design initiatives was launched yesterday by New York Restoration Project (NYRP), dubbed “EDGE/ucation Pavillion Design Competition,” asking a group of hand-picked, up-and-coming architecture firms to create a storm-resistant pavilion in Sherman Creek Park right on the Harlem River.
Originally named for its once thick forests and lush meadows, the former industrial neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn now has a real shortage of green space. The Brooklyn Paper reported that parkland will only grow scarcer with the pending closure of Sgt. William Dougherty Park, located on the corner of Cherry Street and Vandervoort Avenue, as soon as the state begins its four-year construction project to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge.
Greenpointers have expressed concern about the temporary loss of the park, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol has asked the lawmakers in Albany to allocate a portion of the funding reserved for the bridge construction to building a new park. One local resident has already scouted out a possible location at an empty five-acre parcel on Kingsland Avenue between Greenpoint and Norman avenues.
Nearly 10 years after shining as the “crown jewel” in the Downtown Brooklyn Redevelopment Plan, Willoughby Square Park has a clear path to construction. The one-acre park, designed by Hargreaves Associates, will be a passive space offering a moment of calm just half a block from the bustling Fulton Street Mall, but there will be plenty of action beneath the surface, where a robotically controlled parking garage will arrange 700 cars in a very compact space.