Can 4th Avenue Be Fixed?

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    Over the weekend, The New York Times took a look at 4th Avenue, the traffic-choked thoroughfare, above, where low-slung industrial buildings are yielding to rapidly sprouting glassy residential luxury towers. The new apartments rent for unheard-of amounts, but the avenue remains an eyesore.

    With no room left to develop Park Slope, spillover — and a rezoning about a decade ago to allow tall buildings — is driving a frenzy of construction. New one-bedrooms rent for about $2,500 a month and up; a three-bedroom typically starts at about $3,200, according to a survey from Aptsandlofts.com cited in the Times story. Apartments in older walkups in Park Slope go for much less, but the luxury apartments appear to be driving up prices there too. The story quoted a young professional whose landlord recently notified her and her roommates that their rent would be going up.

    “The landlord is going to renovate and, quote, ‘raise the rent substantially,’ which will make it cost-prohibitive for three young professional women who make perfectly good money to rent the apartment,” she said. “The price of a one-bedroom in one of the new buildings is equivalent to the price of the three-bedroom we’re renting now, and it’s more than I bring home in a month.”

    A committee formed two years ago by the Park Slope Civic Council has been calling for more affordable housing in the area and attempting to improve the look of the street. In a survey by the group, “many have described the avenue as unwelcoming and ugly, with new development aggravating the problem,” said the Times. Because the rezoning does not require retail, the new buildings have parking garage entrances, blank concrete or air vents facing the sidewalk.

    The new buildings are all rentals, and filling mostly with young professionals without children, although it’s possible developers might start building condos soon, depending on interest rates, said the story.

    Residents want a “cleaner, greener avenue with more commerce, to provide a pleasant experience and serve as a destination,” said one of the co-chairs of the Forth on 4th Avenue committee. “We’d like people to stop deliberately avoiding 4th Avenue,” she said.

    Our own Montrose Morris recently addressed these same issues in a column. What do you think should be done to improve 4th Avenue?

    A Brooklyn Artery in Transition [NY Times]

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