Flatbush Avenue Extension has seen rapid growth over the past few years, and the current construction boom has already resulted in notable changes along the thoroughfare. Between 85 Flatbush Avenue Extension, the new Hampton Inn at 125, and The Oro’s companion tower — dubbed BKLYN AIR — the street is booming. And changes around the corner — including both 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension and City Point — will further improve the soon-to-be bustling corridor.
85 Flatbush Avenue Extension has come together rather quickly, and the Gene Kaufman-designed building will form a relatively pivotal role in establishing the corridor’s urban identity, given its visually prominent location at the junction of Flatbush and Myrtle. While the structure’s massing is not bad, the mid-rise is hardly befitting a location with excellent visibility and transit-accessibility.
Cladding has yet to be unveiled, but contrary to Kaufman’s typical product, the end-result is likely to be semi-appealing, and at the very least, will create a nascent street-wall. Across Myrtle, the Hampton Inn presents an unflattering contrast, with a design that’s apparently derived from the worst budget stock in Midtown and Lower Manhattan; PTACs are featured prominently, and exposed floor-plates are painted over in black, as if it makes them invisible.
The quality of new development along Flatbush spans the architectural spectrum, and just behind the Howard Johnson, BKLYN Air is actually attractive, clad in glass and white brick. The 35-story tower is the long-delayed sibling of Oro, and has 208 units. While BKLYN Air — official address, 313 Gold Street — is not on Flatbush, it’s almost adjacent, and contributes to the thoroughfare’s urban feel.
Development has occurred in a piecemeal fashion along the northern end of Flatbush, but to the south, more dramatic changes are underway. As covered on Friday, City Point has made significant progress, and the 600,000 square feet of retail associated with the project’s second phase will provide the pedestrian impetus needed to fully activate Flatbush, funneling foot traffic off the already-crowded Fulton corridor.
Adjacent to City Point, JDS’ 775-foot proposal for the Junior’s site highlights the true potential of Downtown Brooklyn. Given the proposed scope of SHoP’s skyline-defining structure, the paltry contributions of projects like 85 Flatbush should be re-evaluated, and even sites that have been recently developed should be considered for future, larger-scale plans that match the neighborhood’s vibrant eventuality.
Despite faults with some of the smaller-scale projects, which are chiefly the result of restrictive zoning, over the next five years, Flatbush Avenue Extension will evolve into one of the most iconic streets in Brooklyn. Both infill developments and larger skyscrapers are springing up along the corridor, presenting an exercise in ground-up revitalization that other accessible locations will hopefully emulate, and both the streetscape and skyline will ultimately benefit.
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