Myrtle Ave. Bid Eyes Plaza Plan

Designs For 71st Ave. Near Complete

At its annual meeting last Tuesday, June 24, the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District got an update from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the completion of the 71st Avenue triangle pedestrian plaza and mulled proposed changes.

Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (MABID) President Herman Hochberg, at left, and Executive Director Ted Renz spoke on how Ridgewood has changed at the group’s annual meeting last Tuesday, June 24.

DOT Project Manager Shari Glickman and Borough Planner Vikram Sinha presented a slideshow on plans to complete the installation of the plaza at the convergence of 71st and Myrtle avenues and Stephen Street. Following final approval of its design, the triangle will be fully converted into a complete pedestrian plaza, the DOT reported.

The 71st Avenue triangle reclaimed an underused slip road between Stephen Street and Myrtle Avenue. Closing it off brought improved safety, and 3,000 sq. ft. of open space for residents and shoppers, according to DOT.

“One key to closing this lane was the safety enhancement on 71st Avenue,” Glickman said.

Though a presentation was made to the BID, plans are not finalized, Sinha said.

“It’s a preliminary discussion so the BID can see what they like before the final presentation,” he stated.

Following the BID’s request to put a pedestrian plaza at the triangle in 2011, a temporary plaza was installed in 2012 when the DOT closed off the lane to traffic

“It’s a spot that is almost perfect for a plaza. Just last week there was a musical performance there,” Myrtle BID President Herman Hochberg said.

When the plaza is complete, tables and chairs with umbrellas, benches, planters, lighting, new trash receptacles and a way finder sign to direct people around the neighborhood will be installed.

The design, if approved next month by the Public Design Commission, could get the project on track for completion by the fall of next year, or the spring of 2016, she stated.

The Department of Design and Construction will oversee the building, Glickman stated.

During construction, “we will not block access to any businesses,” she said.

The design should be made available for viewing or comment on the BID’s Facebook page shortly, Glickman added.

If the design is approved this summer, construction could begin as early as November, according to DOT.

“It’s good for the residents and the merchants,” Hochberg said. “It’s a win-win.”

Changing Ridgewood

With many new families and young people moving to the area, Hochberg related an anecdote about the neighborhood, saying real estate brokers have been calling every day asking him if he wants to sell his building.

“After 65 years in business I have never had that before,” he said. “We are definitely in a state of change. We must work even harder to make sure our future is brighter than even before.”

He advised that, with relatively affordable home and rental prices, young professionals and families are beginning to move into Ridgewood, changing the community.

“We are going through a big metamorphosis,” Hochberg said. “A lot of things are happening on Myrtle Avenue. We are one stop away from Williamsburg and Greenpoint. This is really is an important time for an organization like ours, so we can plan for the future.”

“For 26 years we’ve been fighting to keep our avenue clean, busy and up to date. We have succeeded,” he added.

A market study, along with the most recent census figures support anecdotal evidence from business owners and residents, Ted Renz, executive director of the BID said.

He spoke on wanting to bring a diverse mix of businesses to the area while preserving the unique character of Myrtle Avenue.

“From our perspective we want to maintain the architectural flavor of the ave,” he said.

“It’s our goal, within the next year to work with brokers and property owners to get a better mix,” Renz said.

“There are a lot of 99 cents stores and nail shops. We already have a mix of regional and national chains with mom and pop stores. We want to maintain that balance,” he said.

And with new arrivals moving to Ridgewood from neighborhoods closer to Manhattan, the BID wants to attract businesses they will frequent, including new restaurants.

“Our goal is to meet the needs of the families and individuals,” he said. “We’re seeing the fruits of change in this community.”

“Change is definitely coming and we want to make sure everyone benefits from it,” Renz added.