For years, planners and politicos have talked about transforming Brooklyn’s dingy Fourth Avenue into the borough’s own version of Park Avenue. That transformation is still in the works, but thanks to a handful of rezonings along the thoroughfare, the strip has gotten its fair share of mid-sized apartment buildings. Leaning more Robert Scarano than Rosario Candela, it is not exactly the sexiest strip. But one issue that has caused some real complaints within the community is the utter lack of street life.
Some people blame the Department of City Planning and its chair, that tall, blonde dame of design Amanda Burden, for not forcing developers to follow the tenets of Jane Jacobs and include a few storefronts in their buildings. Of the 10 new towers on Fourth, with 859 apartments scattered among them, only half bothered to include commercial spaces, that catalyst of city life—we’re a town of shoppers and latte sippers. Along with a handful of new hotels, a cinderblock wall or the exhaust of a parking garage is more likely to greet passersby than a new pet spa or tschotske shop.