Business owners oppose DOT plan close Anchorage Place
by Brendan McGrath
Jul 18, 2012 | 1794 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DUMBO, the historic neighborhood on the Brooklyn waterfront, will likely see an expansion of its public pedestrian space as the DUMBO Business Improvement District (BID) seeks to permanently close a street in the neighborhood.

Anchorage Place in DUMBO is slated to be closed in the coming months as DUMBO BID works with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to go forward with a plan to connect the Pearl Street Triangle and the archway under the Manhattan Bridge.

The triangle is a plaza at the point of Pearl Street and Anchorage Place and the archway lies just across the street. Both feature public space and tables that are used by local residents.

The proposal will close the street between both spaces and essentially create one larger public space. According to Alexandria Sica, executive director of the BID, the plan in discussion is a low-cost endeavor, as it will involve the addition of temporary barriers and furniture.

The barriers, such as planters, will be placed at each end of the street, but will not prevent emergency access to the area at any time. Additionally, Sica stressed that the DOT borough engineer will work to create 20 to 30 new parking spaces to compensate for the 24 spaces on Anchorage Place that will be lost as a result of the plaza.

This was an important factor in receiving support from Community Board 2, which also cited the fact that there would be no physical change to the street or its subgrade as a necessary condition for its approval.

At a mandatory public hearing held on Wednesday, July 11, many local residents and business owners spoke in support of the plan but there was a significant amount of opposition.

This stemmed, mainly, from two groups: business tenants of buildings that have loading docks on Anchorage Place and the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance.

The issue for tenants was centered around the loading docks they use on Anchorage Place. They expressed serious concerns that without vehicular access, they would be unable to continue to operate.

The DNA showed a broader opposition to the proposal, based off what it views as the continuation of “filling up” open space in DUMBO by the BID and DOT.

“The DUMBO BID and NYC DOT have joined forces to designate Anchorage Place a ‘restricted use site’ with scant regard for DUMBO’s historic district designation,” Doreen Gallo, DNA’s executive director, read from a statement she submitted during the hearing.

Gallo says the encroachment of these groups overtime has manifested in what she described as a loss of public space in the area. One example that she referenced on multiple occasions is the DOT’s cinderblock building under the Manhattan Bridge at Front and Pearl streets.

Among Gallo’s other concerns is the continued reduction of public views of the waterway and the “renting out” of this new public space by the BID.

Gallo claims that since the BID formed, the planning process between it and DOT has led to a situation where by the time the public hearings are held on major neighborhood changes, everything has already been decided.

According to Sica, the project will likely be underway soon. She stressed that this is a separate endeavor from the possible expansion of the Pearl Street Plaza.

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