The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (the Partnership) officially opened Myrtle Avenue Plaza, a 25,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn between Hall Street and Emerson Place, on Thursday, June 21 with a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony aligned with the kick off of its free summer public program series: “Move on Myrtle.”
Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership Executive Director Meredith Phillips Almeida hosted a brief ceremony attended by officials and local leaders including Raffaele DiMaggio, Vice-President, TD Bank, and the Partnership Board Member; Gregg Bishop , Commissioner, Small Business Services, City of New York; Laurie A. Cumbo , Majority Leader, New York City Council; Emily Weidenhof , Plaza Program Director, New York City Department of Transportation; Joseph R. Lentol , New York State Assemblyman; and Frances Bronet , President, Pratt Institute.
Visitors to the Plaza on opening day enjoyed performances for Make Music New York, a citywide music celebration, by acts including the Benny Lopez Latin Jazz Band, Edwin Vazquez Musica, Utril Rhaburn Nomadic, Squala Orphan, Mijori Goodwin, and Thomas Piper and Friends.
Myrtle Avenue Plaza was initially conceived in 2007 by the Partnership, which oversees the BID and the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project, and it was one of the first public space improvement projects funded by the New York City (NYC) Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Plaza Program in 2008. The project spans four blocks and turned two blocks of an asphalt service road into a tree-lined pedestrian destination with 50 benches and tables forming a space for recreation and community events. Construction of Myrtle Avenue Plaza was managed by the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC), which broke ground on the project in October 2014.
The project cost approximately $7 million. In addition to the funding from NYC DOT, funding came from the New York City Council through Letitia James, who now is the city’s Public Advocate and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office at the recommendation of former President Marty Markowitz. Since the project was underway for nearly 10 years, current New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tirelessly supported the project through to completion.
“ We are proud to see the residents and merchants in our community enjoying this vibrant new public space,” says the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership Executive Director Meredith Phillips Almeida. “It’s been exciting to watch our vision come to life after years of community outreach, fundraising, design, and construction. We look forward to producing programs this summer in Myrtle Avenue Plaza that bring an element of art and culture to the avenue and that allow us to serve our community as well as attract new visitors to our district.”
“Through our network of 75 BIDs across the five boroughs, we know that communities thrive when they come together,” says Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. “ By opening this new plaza, the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is helping to build a stronger neighborhood by providing a space for residents, merchants, and visitors to come together.”
“ The development of Myrtle Avenue Plaza has created a vital epicenter for the neighborhood and its local businesses. TD Bank is proud to support ‘Move On Myrtle’ 2018 as part of its commitment to ensuring that small businesses thrive,” says Peter M. Meyer, NYC Market President, TD Bank.
One of the Myrtle Avenue Plaza project highlights is a public art installation by New York-based artist Matthew Geller titled I Ought To (2017) for which he used carbon and stainless steel, cast iron, cast glass, and concrete to create a trio of round stools capped by a circular corten steel and hand-cast glass concave canopy. According to the artist, “ the canopy is a witty conflation of the pedestrian and the sacred: a 19th-century illuminated manhole cover enlarged to the size of a rose window, a standard feature of Gothic cathedrals.”
The first public programming series to take place at Myrtle Avenue Plaza, “Move on Myrtle” is sponsored by TD Bank and will include fitness programming, interactive events for kids, lunchtime jazz performances, and sunset dance parties. Below is the full list of summer 2018 programs, which are free and open to the public. All will take place at the Myrtle Avenue Plaza on Myrtle Avenue between Hall Street and Emerson Place. Subway: G train to Classon Avenue.
A full lineup of events can be found here.