Joe Chan, Downtown Brooklyn Shopaholic

What will a walk down Flatbush Avenue look like in 10 years?

You didn’t watch our video where Ian McKellen describes it?

I did watch the video.

I won’t say “Booolevard” though.

I loved his pronunciation of ‘Myrtle Avenue.’

What was it?

‘Muuhrtle.’

Well, today Flatbush Avenue is not an inviting experience.

It’s pretty dismal.

Well, it’s dismal, but it’s also overwhelming to the senses. You’ve got a vehicular-driven strip that is obviously under construction, which is good, but it’s kind of visual cacophony. In the years to come you’re going to see a much more inviting pedestrian environment with $23 million of streetscape improvements on a planted median and trees and really just a softening of the physical experience on Flatbush Avenue. …

Where for years you had a combination of auto body shops and garages, you’re now going to have retail at the base of residential buildings, and retail that’s going to interact with the street in a positive and transparent way. One lesser-known attribute of the downtown Brooklyn plan is something called fenestration requirements.

Defenestration requirements?

No, fenestration

As in ‘window’?

Yeah.

I went to Prague, to the castle where I believe the word ‘defenestration’ was coined.

What does that mean? Is that like boarding up windows?

That’s throwing someone out of a window.

Really?

Yeah.

That’s kind of brutal. Well, fenestration is requirements for glass and glazing and transparency on the ground floor. … You think about Flatbush Avenue and you think about first impressions, right? If you’re coming to Brooklyn for the first time, whether you’re a New Yorker or you’re visiting from Canada or Japan or wherever, and say you’re going to the Brooklyn Museum to see, what is it, the Murakami exhibit? Say you’re driving down Flatbush Avenue; now, it’s not the ideal experience.

Sort of like the experience of flying into LaGuardi
a or J.F.K. or Newark.

Yeah … I think the story that we can tell about the private sector and the public sector working together to transform that experience is an exciting one. And it’s going to take a few years to realize, but I think we’re well under way.