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June 22nd, 2012

The Problem with Fourth Avenue

Read this honest assessment of the new construction and negligible planning on Fourth Avenue by Robbie Whelan in the Wall Street Journal.

How did this happen in a neighborhood that fought like hell (and failed) to prevent the Atlantic Yards project, freaks out about a Barnes and Noble going in on Seventh Avenue, and cares about landmarking and all the rest. I hope Whalen is wrong when he states bracingly: “Brooklyn is going to be stuck for decades with this depressing wasteland of cheap materials and designs.”

The optimist in me hopes that good minds (hello Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Park Slope Civic Council, Park Slope Neighbors) are working on ways to FIX what’s wrong with Fourth Avenue. The zoning was screwed. No one was mandated to put storefronts on the Fourth Avenue side of their ugly high rise apartment buildings. Hence, it is an avenue with little or no street life. Thank goodness for the businesses that have set up shop there. The blocks between Union and President have some street life going on (Oxaca, Mission Delores, Rock Shop, Root Hill, an eyeglass store a wine shop). And between 2nd and 3rd Streets there’s Two Moon Art House and Cafe.

There needs to be more and much in the way of amenable city planning or organic and artistic development. Is that even possible anymore?

Here’s an excerpt:

Just as great architecture can lift the spirit, bad architecture can crush it.

In few parts of New York is this more the case than with the rash of new apartment buildings along Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue, the six-lane street that runs south from Atlantic Terminal and cleaves Park Slope from Gowanus. Because of bad decisions by Amanda Burden’s City Planning Department and the profit-above-all-else motive of some developers, Brooklyn is going to be stuck for decades with this depressing wasteland of cheap materials and designs.

Just how bad is Fourth Avenue? Consider the latest addition, a 12-story rental apartment building ..

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