If Paris was the inspiration for a car-free pedestrian plaza on Montague Street that began on Sunday, the stretch instead looked a more like, well, a normal quiet Sunday on Montague Street.
You might blame dearth of tables and chairs.
For the first installment of the four-Sunday Montague Street “Summer Spaces” project, which closed the shopping strip to cars between Clinton Street and the Promenade, the city sent only 20 tables and 70 chairs — and charged $100 to restaurants that wanted to extend their sidewalk seating to the curb.
And the promised lawn, which showed up so gloriously in pre-event renderings, never materialized.
Without life and crowds concentrated in certain areas, the three blocks looked empty despite the turnout and left pedestrians, residents, and merchants confused. (The fact it was a holiday weekend didn’t help, either.)
“Could the ‘Summer Space’ have been better in terms of the way it looked? For sure,” said Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton. “If the [city] had more chairs to put out, it would have been more obvious that this was about turning the street over to pedestrians for a day.
The fact that there were so few … explains why it might have been unclear to people just what this is.”
That’s one view. But Montague Street Business Improvement District Executive Director Chelsea Mauldin said that Piazza Montague was never intended to be raucous.
“I’m not trying to throw a street party or have a street fair,” Mauldin said. “What we’re trying to do is create this relaxing environment for people to come and be outdoors and patronize our businesses.”
Mauldin added that she had all of the street furniture that the Department of Transportation makes available for such projects.
Another goal of the project — which will continue during the remaining Sundays in July — is to increase sales in local businesses, Mauldin said.
Sales at Heights Books doubled, said its owner, Tracy Walsh. And Toawanna Murray, a clerk at the clothing boutique Blue Rose, said and there was a “livelier energy inside” and more sales than on a normal Sunday.
This week, Yoga People will host a free class at 11 am in front of its space at 160 Montague St. And on July 20, the New York Kids Club, whose entrance is on Henry Street, will offer a free kids’ art program, tentatively scheduled for 3 pm.e_SRit— with Michael Lipkin