Friday, January 20, 2012

$12 Million Park Planned For Columbia Street Waterfront District In Carroll Gardens

Park With Changing Views. Rendering of proposed Columbia Street Waterfront District park between Degraw and Kane Streets in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn. The Department of Transportation ownes the two-acre property. The new park would feature ever changing views of shipping containers from the adjasent piers and port and the Manhattan skyline. (Image: Rogers Marvel Architects)

"Carroll Gardens West" was cut off from the adjacent Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill to the east the late 1950s by the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.


Old Brooklyn, meet new Brooklyn.

A plush $12 million riverside park planned for the isolated Columbia Street Waterfront District will feature views of the Manhattan skyline — and massive shipping containers, according to the New York Post.

Renderings released this week show a dingy, city-owned storage lot — running from DeGraw to Kane streets on Columbia Street — being transformed into a 2-acre park behind industrial containers and towering cranes.

For the area’s growing hipster and yuppie crowds, it’ll include a dog run, tree-lined paths and a hilly lawn that officials said could be used to host small concerts and other shows.

Columbia Street Waterfront Park would also be part of a massive bike lane connecting to nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park and eventually other waterfront neighborhoods.

"The goal is to make this park a destination for the neighborhood," said Robert Pirani, a vice president at Regional Plan Association, which is overseeing the project’s design phase with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.

He envisions the park becoming a smaller version of Manhattan’s Bryant Park, adding that it could spur takeout business at Columbia Street’s many eateries — such as Alma Restaurant and Margaret Palca Bakes — by providing a serene spot to chow down.

The project, however, can’t break ground just yet.

The city’s Department of Transportation needs the lot for at least another year to store equipment for nearby street-repair projects, and then the city will have to raise money to build the park.

But Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the area, said he believes it won’t be too difficult to raise money through the public and private sector. He said there is "overwhelming community support for it."

Once a vibrant community, the Columbia Street Waterfront District — often referred to as "Carroll Gardens West" — fell on hard times in the late 1950s after being cut off from adjacent Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill to the east by the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Frank Buffa, owner of the 108-year-old Ferdinando’s Focacceria on Union Street between Columbia and Hicks streets, hopes the park "finally gets people to cross the BQE" and into the neighborhood.

"If they come to walk their dogs, maybe they’ll see our shops and come in," he said. "Many of my loyal customers live far away, but there’s people a block away [in Carroll Gardens] who don’t even know we’re here because they don’t walk past the highway."

The Bloomberg administration previously wanted to revive the neighborhood by pushing the shipping terminal out in favor of new housing, a conference center, cruise terminal and beer garden along Piers 7-10 and the lot. But in 2008, the Port Authority, which owns the piers, ultimately opted to keep a working port.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood has been hurt the past eight years by a series of street-repair projects of aging infrastructure along Columbia and Van Brunt streets that has made things difficult for existing businesses.

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