A DUMBO real-estate titan and his wife’s dream of donating her lovingly restored, 1920s-era carousel to the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront development was finally realized on Thursday when state officials finally accepted the gift.
The directors of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation approved David and Jane Walentases’ gift of the so-called “Jane’s Carousel” and $3.45 million to landscape and operate it past the park’s closing time — and agreed to house it in a pavilion designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
The Walentases have long sought to get the refurbished carousel into Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is slated to run along the entire waterfront of gentrifying DUMBO — a neighborhood they largely own.
The couple have been fans of Nouvel since at least 1999, when he designed a glass-sided hotel for a site inside the current footprint of the 1.3-mile waterfront park and development stretching from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.
That project died amid community opposition, though there is a hotel slated for roughly the same location inside the park.
The Walentases’ reached out to Nouvel again two years ago, commissioning an all-weather facility for the carousel that Jane Walentas has been restoring since 1984.
For the last few years, it’s been something of a museum piece in a storefront on Water Street that’s too small to actually allow anyone to ride the painted ponies as they creepily go up and down.
Jennifer Klein, the project director, couldn’t say exactly when kids would finally be able to get in the saddle inside the park, whose first permanent section is slated to open next month.
But she did announce that the Walentases are donating $3.45 million for improvements to the $350-million park and development, money that will allow the tourist-friendly carousel’s hours to be extended past the park’s closing time, possibly until 1 am.
Maintenance and operations will be covered by a humble ticket price that will “most likely” follow that of the Central Park Carousel ($2 per three-minute ride).
Excess dough will go into the park’s $15-million annual maintenance budget, Klein said.