By Sabina Mollot
Brooklyn’s downtown area will be getting a $10 million boost through a state award program announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week. The investment in the business district community is aimed at boosting the local economy. Similar investments were made in nine other downtown districts throughout the state.
In Brooklyn, the money will go towards the following projects: Making the streetscape more pedestrian friendly along Tillary, Navy and Park corridors possibly with bike lanes, seating and planters; renovating and expanding outdated space at the Walt Whitman branch of the New York Public Library (this includes some demolition at the 7,000 s/f space); updating play space at Commodore Barry Park; turning an old conference room at Ingersoll Community Center into a full “digital lab;” making pedestrian-friendly improvements at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; and establishing a grant program for public art by local artists.
“Here in Downtown Brooklyn, there is a great need for targeted, publicly-driven investment,” said RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of state housing agency Homes and Community Renewal.
While the $10 million sum might seem paltry in comparison to the kind of money private developers have spent in the downtown area, one real estate professional who does business in the area welcomed the improvements.
“Is it a big sum of money to do a drastic amount? No,” admitted Michael Cimino, a real estate salesperson at National Retail Group at Marcus & Millichap, “but with the bike traffic, they’re making it more walkable, which I definitely think will improve the area. I think it will probably be a good use for the money.”
Cimino is in the process of selling a small building in downtown Brooklyn on Willoughby and Duffield Street and has previously sold a couple of buildings in the neighborhood. He also lived in the area a few years ago.
He noted that while the Brooklyn market has cooled somewhat in the past few years, the neighborhood still seems to be commanding high prices.
“If you compare downtown Brooklyn to a place like Long Island City, downtown Brooklyn just has so much more character,” said Cimino, “because there’s a lot of existing businesses that are there.”