A small portion of Willoughby Park is now open to the public.
At some point over the July 4 weekend, NYCEDC unveiled a pop-up version of the long-delayed park. Stretching along Willoughby Street between Albee Square West and Duffield Street, there is now a large green area, two sets of tables and chairs, and a gravel walkway that leads from one side of the park to the other.
It’s a big step for a project that seemed to be permanently delayed, and its origins reach back 15 years. To build the park, promised to attract development in Downtown Brooklyn as part of a 2004 rezoning, the city took over by eminent domain properties thought to have been stops on the underground railroad and a group of tenement buildings at 402-406 Albee Square, then evicted dozens of rent-regulated families who had lived there for decades.
The park is located directly across the street from the new City Point mall and apartment towers, which replaced the Albee Square Mall. Private developer American Development Group was tapped for the project. According to the city, they could not get funding to proceed with the project, which the developer disputes. They are currently in an active lawsuit with the EDC.
In May, the city announced that it was taking over the project and would deliver the park by 2022. It’s reduced the cost of the project from $80 million to $10 million by dropping the plans for parking underneath the green space.
[Photos by Craig Hubert]
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