Developer pushing to close Schermerhorn block: ‘You’ve probably never heard of it’

Blocked block: Alloy Development blocked off Schermerhorn Street between Third and Flatbush avenues on Sept. 17 for a street fair. The developer hopes to close the block, next to one of its forthcoming properties, permanently.
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It’s just a little street in Boerum Hill, you’ve probably never heard of it.

Honchos from a luxury housing developer petitioning the city to permanently close the block of Schermerhorn Street at Flatbush Avenue tried to convince members of Community Board 2 last week that the passage is a little-known lane they likely didn’t even realize was there and certainly wouldn’t miss driving on. But locals hit back that the artery to the borough’s major thoroughfare is already so mainstream.

“You don’t know it because nobody uses it,” said Alloy Development director David McCarty during a presentation on the closure on Sept. 14.

Actually, board members said, they were using it before it was cool.

“I disagree, people use it,” said one. “If you live in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill you veer right onto Flatbush Avenue to go south. [The Department of Transportation] knows that this is a vital lane for driving.”

The strip is part of a triangular nexus called Temple Square where Schermerhorn Street and Lafayette Avenue fork off Third Avenue, and is a popular passage for drivers looking to turn onto Flatbush without hitting traffic lights.

But don’t worry, the developers told the residents — “Temple” Square is just a name.

“It’s a triangle and there’s no temple nearby at all,” said executive vice president AJ Pires. “None of you probably know where it is.”

It is in fact directly across the road from the 100-year-old Baptist Temple, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, locals pointed out.

As this paper revealed last month, Alloy just bought up almost all the properties on the block-on-the-chopping-block, and is planning something big there. But the spokesmen did not mention their plans for the site at the meeting — and Community Board 2 members seemed none the wiser, betraying their shocking ignorance of our exclusive report.

The Alloy officials said it was the transportation department’s idea to close the street as a traffic calming measure — they are just offering their support as a “neighboring property owner.”

But an agency rep later said it was actually Alloy that in August first applied to close the strip as part of its public plaza program — in which the city converts under-utilized streets into open spaces.

Alloy wouldn’t be able to claim or buy air right from the shuttered strip to enable taller buildings, but it would gain an eye-pleasing, car-free entrance to its planned property.

As a proof of concept, the city shut the block on Saturday and Alloy held a street fair there.

Attendees at the meeting were told they could show up then to voice any concerns about a permanent closure to the transportation department — but no one from the agency was there on Saturday afternoon, and the Alloy architect running the show said the agency had actually come the day before to quiz people on the potential street shutter.

Visitors and vendors at the fair said they had no idea it was related to a full-time closure plan, but several said they liked the idea nonetheless.

“I think traffic calming is really good in general and this is a neighborhood that needs it,” said Andrew Page, who has worked at nearby gallery Urban Glass for 10 years. “I’m open to taking back turf from the cars.”

The department doesn’t actually know how many drivers use the strip currently and will now need to conduct a study if it pursues the closure plan. But an agency bigwig threw her support behind it at Wednesday’s meeting, arguing it would keep pedestrians safer.

“When you close this lane it makes it safer for pedestrians to cross,” said Borough Planner Abigail Ikner.

Since 2012, eight drivers have crashed at the intersection of Schermerhorn Street and Flatbush Avenue, and 16 at Third Avenue, with one person injured — a driver — in total, according to Police Department data.

— with Ruth Brown

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bridget from Brooklyn says:
So all the car-local yokels coming out! Oh no, don't block our precious cars! Our cars are so important! We want to drive on the sidewalks, in the bike lanes, everywhere! Don't close our car street! We all need to drive to the Baptist Temple! Vroom vroom!
Get a bike you people!!!!
Sept. 19, 2016, 8:03 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I used to buy audio equipment from Gem Pawnbrokers all the time and that was a very handy block indeed. I think closing it would create an unpleasant bottleneck. As for the argument that "no one uses it" ...try looking at Google street view and then see if that's accurate. And I don't even own a car.
Sept. 19, 2016, 8:41 am
Tyler from pps says:
The only reason people us it is because there's no right-turn off of Lafayette... this little block is that right turn. Close it, allow right-turns from Lafayette, and MAGIC! no one uses it.

Some new stripes of paint. A couple of concrete planters blocking the road. Wait six months. What you have there is a dirt cheap traffic study folks! Does it work. Great. Make it permanent. Did it cause problems. That's ok. some new paint and a truck to take away the planters.

If the DOT thinks it possible... test it. Random community members are not traffic experts and their arguments about the flow of traffic are just silly.

Now, if there were REAL objections that the community board and random people at microphones can actually speak to intelligently, great. ("Oh, but I drive there now. That would be a change. I hate change!" Stomp stomp. -- that's not an example.)
Sept. 19, 2016, 10:41 am
Tina from Real Brooklyn says:
I take this street everyday. Sometimes as many as two our three times in a single day. And they say I don't know where it is?! I know. Trust me. Maybe they don't know where it is! Maybe they should buy a map! A map of Brooklyn!
Sept. 19, 2016, 11:03 am
Law & Disorder from BROOKLYN says:
The Politicians and there money hungry friends do not care for you.No one obeys the law both
Bicyclists and drivers.The police are hand cuffed and pretty soon won't be able to protect you at all.
I know police officers now who don't care anymore.The Police are now clasified as criminals and the criminals as victims. I was happy living and working in new York and raising my family here. Now I am leaving and I feel for everyone who can't. I now see School busses full of children running stop signs. Just the other day One School buss stopped fore the light and then went threw it. So close all the streets make it easer for the muggers and shoplifters. Sorry i went on a rant.Good Luck To All. Remember Police officers have a second sense let them stop and search suspects and vehicles I know this will help in todays times.
Sept. 19, 2016, 11:12 am
Tyler from pps says:
Bye bye.
Sept. 19, 2016, 11:16 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Is Bridget high? Or as known in Irish foreplay - brace yourself Bridget lol. I do nor know where you are seeing these antics - I am a yokel lifer (as opposed to being from cul de sac Ohio) and rarel;y see such things.
Sept. 19, 2016, 1:02 pm
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
No one uses the street in question. Just close it and create a right turn at the light.
Sept. 19, 2016, 1:20 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
NY area is pretty much under terrorist attacks and this is important?
Sept. 19, 2016, 1:28 pm
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
@ old time
I wouldn't necessarily go as far as to call the drivers of NYC terrorists.
Sept. 19, 2016, 1:34 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Of course I know about the development by Alloy but this was a limited presentation with no motion before the Community Board. We try to get through the agenda which takes hours without discussing things not on the agenda. I daresay that most of the community board is aware of it. You can be sure that any vote or discussion of a motion will have a much longer and fuller discussion. Board member
Sept. 19, 2016, 1:52 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Dave - not at all - I was referring to the explosion in Chelsea and bomb finding

No problem with card - father retired from auto industry
Sept. 19, 2016, 2 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Old Time -- Most humans can think about multiple things at a time. Also, I don't think the DOT line painting and sign crews are on terrorist duty. Are they?
Sept. 19, 2016, 2:05 pm
Wanda from Brooklyn says:
I agree with the others, just close it already. It's more trouble than it's worth. Don't do the project, just close the street.
Sept. 19, 2016, 6:02 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
wow they really wanna close down schermerhorn huh? I don't see it happening but don't you darn yups see what they are trying to do to bk all because you fools say its cool & hip?
Sept. 19, 2016, 8:10 pm
Frank from Ft. Greene says:
This sounds mysteriously identical to the mess DOT made on behalf of future developers at Putnam Triangle! I'm surprised the Fulton Area BID didn't appear to say how wonderful their little debacle just up the street worked out...
Sept. 20, 2016, 9:43 am
Rob from NY says:
It seems this whole article is silly and overly alarmist. The street isn't being closed, just limited to people without cars.

Streets closed to cars can be wonderful places as we're seeing all over the city.
Sept. 20, 2016, 10:35 am
old time btooklyn from sler says:
Tyler - I was referring to the volume of comments here re street closures as opposed to zero comments in the articles about the terrorist bombings.
Sept. 20, 2016, 11:31 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I think a better idea is to improve the parks and plazas that already exist rather than closing off actual streets to vehicular traffic. Then again, the anti-car fanatics will be against this, because they can't promote their agenda. Unfortunately, they will never understand that making a city car free does more harm than good.
Sept. 20, 2016, 5:13 pm
Bridget from Brooklyn says:
Not only is this a good idea, but I think that more streets need to be closed. Why do we have black death veins running through the city? Instead of asphalt streets, we could have fruit trees growing between the houses. Anyone could take the fruits that they wanted to eat while slowly cycling around the trees. The streets are a waste of space.
Sept. 21, 2016, 4:27 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I hate to break this to you anti-car fanatics but some of us need cars to get to meetings with our court mandated parole officers.

The men in prison refused to touch me.
Sept. 21, 2016, 11:41 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, cut with the impersonations of me, because I find them to be unprofessional, and I don't say things like that. Nevertheless, I do find having cities to be car free a bad idea for the long run. Imagine if you need deliveries or to have your store stocked up. Most who provide that will be using some kind of motor vehicle being passenger or commercial. The same thing would imply if you need a utility worker. I highly doubt that this could be carried by on foot, by bicycle, or even with public transportation. BTW, if you bother to look at Google Maps, there is already some public spaces nearby, which doesn't make any sense in closing up this block. I find it easier just to make better use of the public space(s) that already exist rather than just creating new ones that could fall into neglect later on.
Sept. 21, 2016, 4:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I'm sorry. I didn't make that comment at 4:17. I was on my way to pick up my Barney the Dinosaur costume for the Hersey Highway party tonight at "Me from Bay Ridge's" place.

It's obviously fake because who would take the time to look on Google Maps in order to make a decision on a minor street issue in a city 40 miles away.

Of course I spent my morning with my parole officer so I couldn't have taken the time to look at Google Maps. I just wish these bike zealots and their anti-car hatred would stop with the haterade.
Sept. 21, 2016, 4:36 pm

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