Fulton Street sits at the crossroads of many diverse and unique neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Along the 24 blocks of Fulton addressed by this project, there are 7 triangle-shaped traffic islands, 2 “temporary” public plazas, 2 NYC DOT capital construction projects currently underway, 13 vacant storefronts, and 26 vacant lots. This project asked residents and businesses in the area: what would you like to see along Fulton Street?
In 2005 a coalition of small business owners, merchants, property owners, and community stakeholders banded together to form an association to focus on enhancing the Fulton Street shopping district that runs through the two neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. In 2009 Fulton Area Business (FAB) Alliance was incorporated and began operations as one of 68 Business Improvement Districts in New York City.
With one full-time person and two part-time staff members, FAB provides supplemental sanitation services; addresses public safety and quality-of-life issues; manages graffiti-removal efforts; installs holiday lighting and branded banners to create a sense of place and unity; advocates on behalf of its members with city agencies, elected officials and civic organizations, develops marketing events and public relations initiatives that bring awareness to Fulton Street and its diverse range of small businesses—while driving foot traffic to those businesses; and works on business attraction and retention to reduce vacancies and increase the vibrancy of the street life.
As Fulton Street/Brooklyn continues to evolve as a commercial center, the Fulton Area Business Alliance (FAB) saw a growing need to enhance a two-mile expanse of the street to reflect the growth of the area and the diverse needs of its community. This stretch of Fulton Street passes through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, representing a host of opportunities for meaningful changes and improvements to the neighborhood’s public space. FAB’s imperatives were clear from the beginning: support local businesses, provide an atmosphere conducive to increased safety, engage the community and generally revitalize the specified stretch of Fulton Street.
Throughout the project, FAB and the design team made sure the process was entirely transparent so that residents, business owners, elected officials, block and tenant associations, and community boards could offer comments or recommendations along the way. FAB and the design team hosted multiple community meetings to introduce the project and to encourage regular participation.
The design team embarked on a considerable research and discovery process, from which a three zone approach to the area emerged. The design team used this framework in its approach to each area of the project: cultural and active, dynamic and flexible, and small scale and local. Considerations included under-utilized areas; expected changes in the commercial and residential make-up of those blocks with vacant lots; properties of particular architectural and historical significance; traffic needs; and pedestrian, bicycle and public/private transportation requirements.
This research and discovery phase, along with community input at several points resulted in the Fulton Street Vision Plan, a 42-page document identifying several zones of space along Fulton Street and including recommendations and renderings for various projects throughout these zones.
Some recommendations and improvements are already under way, including the installation of new benches, bike racks, and free wifi service for Fulton from Ashland to Classon, as well as other elements to make the area more walkable and liveable. A separate process has begun to implement Vision Plan improvements to Fowler Square with build out to start in 2014/15. The document also includes ideas for funding public art projects in Putnam Triangle Plaza, as well as exploring funding opportunities to display art along the fences on the blocks between Vanderbilt and Carlton.
As the area continues to grow and change, the Vision Plan will serve as a touchpoint for FAB, the community and the city. Instead of being a fixed document, the goal is for the Plan to evolve and improve along with the neighborhood.
See images from this project’s Community Visioning Event from June 12, 2012.
Download the Vision Plan here!