Businesses on Fowler Square Plaza: Go Ahead, Make It Permanent

DOT is scheduled to go before Community Board 2’s transportation committee on December 18 with plans to make the new pedestrian plaza at Fowler Square in Fort Greene a permanent redesign. Before the city went ahead with reclaiming this block of North Elliott Place for the plaza, a small, vocal contingent — mostly upset that they would have to slightly alter their driving routes — predicted that the new public space would be unsafe for walking. Previously, another opponent claimed the plaza would “split the neighborhood apart.” Now that everyone has had the summer and fall to see the plaza in action, we thought we’d check in with some local business owners about what they think of the project.

Getting Fowler Square plaza in Fort Greene ready for business yesterday morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

By and large, nearby business owners either actively welcomed the plaza or had no objection to giving people a place to sit, even if it changed their commutes a little bit.

J.J. Lee, owner of La Bagel Delight, supported the plaza. “I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “It’s for everybody in this neighborhood.” Lee had heard some people complaining that the plaza removed parking spots. If they think that losing a handful of parking spaces would make or break the neighborhood’s businesses, he said, “they’re out of their mind.”

Ed Tretter owns 67 Burger on Lafayette Street and said he’s heard plenty of arguments for and against the plaza, but he likes what it’s done for the area. “It’s nice and clean and people are enjoying their neighborhood,” he said. He did say he would prioritize other initiatives above the construction of a permanent plaza, and wants something done about speeding. “We call this the Lafayette 500,” he said. “They don’t care if the light’s red or green.”

Jay Rajani owns the Sahil Magazines and More bodega. “I don’t care, actually,” he said. “I lost my parking, that’s it,” he said, adding that it didn’t have an impact on his business.

Sung Lee, manager of Luxury Nail and Spa, said he experienced one big change since the plaza was installed. “Now I have to go around” the block when driving, he said. “I don’t mind.”

Shira Glouberman lives in the neighborhood and was walking on Lafayette Avenue yesterday morning. “It’s a wonderful idea,” she said, noting that the plaza serves a different need than the grassy expanses of nearby Fort Greene Park. “A lot of people use it.”

  • Ian Dutton

    I had never shopped at any of the businesses around Fowler Sq. before this little plaza was created. This summer there were half a dozen times that I sat, sometimes with friends, and enjoyed pastries or beverages that I purchased for my pause. That’s just one person’s experience, then multiplied…

  • Miles Bader

    @IanD_NYC:disqus Seriously.

    Plazas make a place into a destination.  They keep people around.  That’s good for nearby businesses.

    They annoy people just driving through at high speed.  That doesn’t hurt nearby businesses.

    They calm driving.  That’s good for local residents.

    So one can understand why there are complaints about plazas—coming from people that just drive through on their way elsewhere—but I can’t understand why anybody would care about such complaints.  From the point of view of the neighborhood, plazas are a pretty obvious net positive…

  • DAVID HENRY

    I REMEMBER PLAYING ON THAT BLOCK WHEN A CHILD, WE LIVED AT 100 SO ELLIOTT, IT WAS A DANGEROUS MANEUVER. TO GET TO THE FORT GREENE COMMUNITY CORPORATIONS “CLUB HERALDO HISPANO” i REMEMBER A NICE DINER NEARBY, I THINK ITS NOW GONE.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

It’s de Blasio and Bratton vs. the World on Times Square Plazas

|
Let’s start with some basic facts: Most people like Times Square better now that it has more room for people. Gone are the days when the sidewalks were so meager that you had no choice but to walk in traffic. After Broadway went car-free through Times Square in 2009, pedestrian injuries plummeted 40 percent. Retail rents soared. And yet, going against […]

Brooklyn CB 2 Endorses Fowler Square Plaza, With Evaluation Period

|
In a meeting Wednesday evening, Brooklyn Community Board 2 endorsed plans to try out a new pedestrian plaza at Fort Greene’s Fowler Square. A short, lightly-trafficked block of South Elliott Place, between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, will be reclaimed for pedestrians, allowing the existing square to be connected with the adjoining block. The vote […]

Clinton Hill Celebrates Putnam Plaza With Dance Party

|
Last Monday, DOT workers laid down gravel and epoxy on top of the asphalt on a block of Putnam Avenue, transforming the area between Fulton Street and Grand Avenue from through street to public space. On Sunday, Clinton Hill came out to celebrate. The opening weekend block party was captured by local documentary maker Adele […]