On September 10, as many were rushing to cast votes in New York City’s mayoral primary, local officials gathered on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) to celebrate the completion of a city-funded $20-million rejuvenation plan for the Brooklyn neighborhood. The project includes the renovation of a historic plaza, streetscape improvements, and the creation of new public spaces.
Photo © Alanna Malone
Garrison Architects designed the facelift of Restoration Plaza, which was originally constructed in 1972. Funded by a $15 million-investment from Citigroup, the enhancements are intended to help re-establish the Plaza as a commercial center for Bed-Stuy. In order to increase visibility from the plaza to the bustling street, a four-story masonry wall from three burned out tenements that was saved as part of the original construction, has been removed. Patterned glass panels etched with images of community leaders and other luminaries, including President Obama, are now suspended from the existing buildings (which were also renovated). A projection screen and audio system help create a dynamic space for outdoor events such as movies, performances, and even community exercise programs.
Directly across the street from Restoration Plaza is a new public space called Marcy Plaza, which includes more seating, bike racks, and plantings. Local artist, Ellen Harvey, was commissioned by NYC’s Percent for Art Program to create a 22-foot diameter circular mosaic embedded into the floor of the plaza. The public art piece features a pattern of diamonds with each shape representing details of historic sites around the neighborhood: stained glass church windows, a high school door, and checker table tiles from a nearby park.
Meant to spur local economic activity and establish more vibrant streets, the mile-long infrastructure enhancements along Fulton Street include plantings, bike racks, expanded sidewalks, benches, trees, and more lighting. M. Paul Friedberg and Partners led the design for both the infrastructure enhancements and the design Marcy Plaza.
Though these measures may seem like minor interventions compared to the multi-million dollar cost, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation claims that the redevelopment has leveraged more private sector investment—over $100 million for mixed-income housing and commercial spaces along Fulton Street. The long-term goal is to continue this growth and encourage community activity along Fulton Street.
The collaborative effort was supported by Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the city council, the local community board, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and four city agencies.