Seeing Myrtle Avenue With Fresh Eyes

The folks over at the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership have unveiled the results
of a collaboration with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) undertaken
over the last couple of years. Two public workshops were held to get
community input on the plans, which address four different areas of
Myrtle Avenue, one of the main commercial streets for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

The days when Myrtle was known as "Murder
Avenue" are long past. Thriving shops and restaurants line much of the
street, in part thanks to the efforts of the Myrtle Avenue
Revitalization Project and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business
Improvement District (constituent members of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn
Partnership). But many areas remain where the street’s potential is
going unrealized, and that’s what the collaboration with PPS was meant
to address. "We were looking at streetscape conditions," says Vaidila
Kungys, the partnership’s program manager for planning and economic
development. "There’s a lot of clutter, crowded sidewalks and
problematic intersections."


There are also huge swaths of underused or poorly used space, including the area between Carlton and Ashland, which borders Fort Greene Park and the Walt Whitman Houses, and the portion from Hall Street to Emerson Place, which fronts on a superblock. Because of a four-block service road in this section, seven lanes devoted to vehicles separate one side of the street from the other. Pratt’s freshly revealed plans for the site at 524 Myrtle could be a catalyst for improvements here.

Myrtle_HallToEmerson_ExistingConditions_Challenges1_web.jpg
The report shows how a service road next to a superblock marginalizes pedestrians

Michael Blaise Backer, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, is optimistic about the group’s chances for implementing at least some of the recommendations that come out of the study before too much time passes. Some solutions, like the ones proposed for the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Myrtle (sketches above), are relatively simple, and Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s solid track record with community leaders, business owners and politicians will certainly make a difference. "We’ve got all the stakeholders involved," says Backer. He notes as well that the current leadership at DOT is likely to be receptive to this sort of "livable streets" improvement.

We’ll keep an eye on it.

  • sarah

    I like this idea but wouldn’t the “pedestrian-enhanced” intersection create a dangerous situation for cyclists?

  • KP

    Um. Yeah. Where’s the existing (and pot-holey) bike lane? And where did all the trees go on the north side of the street?

  • mfs

    my thoughts exactly. and currently that bike lane really has a substandard width and surface.

    otherwise, it’s a really cool plan.

  • totally serial

    well maybe the construction of this would coincide with the greenway they’re going to be constructing on Flushing by the Navy Yard. otherwise, i’m sure there will be some compensation for bikes in any proper plan they put forth.

  • mike

    Unfortunately Myrtle Ave is pretty narrow for a street that has to accommodate bicycles, buses, trucks and cars. Can you figure out a way to fit comfortable bike lanes along with everything else?

  • MyrtleGuy

    The bike lane on Myrtle has been moved to Willoughby, so it’s really not an issue. Nevertheless, curb extensions tend to reduce auto speeds, so even if cyclists continue on Myrtle, which I prob will, cyclists and cars will just have to share the road, which is even what DOT is proposing in some places, like 5th Avenue in the Slope.

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