In 2015, the Junction BID (Business Improvement District), which covers most of the area in the Nostrand & Flatbush intersection and the immediate surrounding areas, applied to be the maintenance partner for a potential pedestrian plaza on Hillel Place between Kenilworth Place and Nostrand Ave. To maintain access to Kenilworth Place, we would reverse the traffic flow on Hillel Place between Campus Road and Kenilworth Place. The official plaza space, as well as the reversal of the flow of traffic on the open portion of Hillel Place can be seen in the picture above (the yellow space represents the plaza, while the red arrows represent the new traffic flow).
With low traffic volumes on Hillel Place, we do not see any negative impacts to traffic. We expect the closure to alleviate some of the back up as people line up on Flatbush waiting to make the right hand turn onto Hillel Place. Whenever the NYC DOT installs any project, we work closely with FDNY to make sure there will be no negative impacts on emergency services. In this instance that means keeping a lane clear for emergency access. The fire lane can be seen in the rendering below.
With every project, NYC DOT aims to meet the needs of the community. By performing traffic and pedestrian counts on Hillel Place we found that during peak hours nearly 10 times the number of pedestrians use the space than cars. The highest number of cars using the space during any hour during the week was 118 cars from 12-1PM on Saturday afternoon compared to 1094 pedestrians from 12-1 on a weekday. With Brooklyn College, the pull of the retail and restaurants in the neighborhood, and the 2/5 terminus at “Flatbush Ave-Brooklyn College” we see opening up Hillel Place to pedestrian usage as serving a larger portion of the community.
Graphic showing peak usage at Hillel Place
The NYC DOT maintains jurisdiction over all the plazas in the city. There are over 50 plazas in NYC. The plaza would be for public use. An everyday use for the space usually includes tables and chairs, where people can go and sit for lunch, or have a cup of coffee while on break. As the maintenance partner the Junction BID would program the plaza, but all plazas are free and open to the publc and anyone can apply for a permit to program them with the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO). With the proper permits, there can be a wide array of programming.This may include fitness classes, movie screenings and even free food!
(Croquet at Putnam Plaza, Brooklyn)
To learn more about NYC DOT's Plaza program, please click this link.