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[Press Release] “Envision Vanderbilt” builds on community efforts to pioneer a future for Vanderbilt Avenue

Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Arup partner to create a plan forward of one of the New York City’s premier Open Streets

FOR RELEASE⁠ 

CONTACT:    Gib Veconi, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Inc.: gib@veconi.com, (917) 881-0401
Ozgur Gungor, Arup: ozgur.gungor@arup.com, (212) 897-1144

September 8, 2021

“Envision Vanderbilt” builds on community efforts to pioneer a future for Vanderbilt Avenue

Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Arup partner to create a plan forward of one of the New York City’s premier Open Streets

Brooklyn, New York: Representatives of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) and Arup today announced Envision Vanderbilt, a public engagement project intended to provide a roadmap for the future use of Prospect Heights’ Vanderbilt Avenue by neighborhood residents, businesses, and visitors. During the fall of 2021, the initiative will include public engagement events, an online survey, and a town hall meeting to gather stakeholder input on how new uses — brought to the avenue through New York City’s Open Streets program — can become a permanent part of life in Prospect Heights.

The New York City Department of Transportation created the City’s Open Streets program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will guide the process of implementing design changes that extend the use of Vanderbilt Avenue by pedestrians, cyclists and local businesses. 

“A year ago, when PHNDC made Vanderbilt Avenue part of the City’s Open Streets program, our goal was to get up and running quickly to save a local restaurant industry struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PHNDC Chair Gib Veconi. “The Prospect Heights community then adopted the open street and made it into a resource for the whole neighborhood. What we learned from the experience last year helped us make the open street safer, more attractive and more fun this year. Now, we’re asking residents, businesses, and visitors to help us imagine a future for Vanderbilt Avenue beyond the barriers, signs and traffic cones that have become associated with opening the street for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Arup, an international firm of design, planning and engineering consultants, is collaborating with PHNDC on a pro-bono basis to develop a long-term vision for Vanderbilt Avenue. “The community’s enthusiastic adoption of the City’s open streets model offers a unique opportunity to engage in a visioning process for the future of Vanderbilt Avenue,” said James Francisco, Senior Urban Designer at Arup. “New York City is in the process of implementing a new vision for streetscapes that fosters safer, healthier, and  more connected communities. Developing sustainable strategies that maximize positive outcomes has the potential for greatly improving post-pandemic life for all.”

“Our open street has been remarkably successful,” said Ellen Fishman, proprietor of Amorina Cucina Rustica. “In addition to becoming a destination for outdoor dining, Vanderbilt Avenue has created a public plaza for pedestrians, cyclists, picnickers and families. We want to assure that our future design reflects this range of uses among the various communities we attract. Maintaining the special vibe that’s taken root over the past year requires that we consider the interests of residents, visitors from other parts of the borough, tourists, bicyclists, hospitality and retail businesses.”

Vanderbilt Avenue resident Viva DeConcini said, “I love weekends during Open Streets. It’s brought the neighborhood together like nothing I’ve seen in the eighteen years I’ve lived here. It’s exciting to think about how this can become a permanent part of life in Prospect Heights.”

Envision Vanderbilt begins with two events taking place on Vanderbilt Avenue where community members will share their experiences over the last year, see visualizations of potential design alternatives, participate in interactive street design activities, and learn how changes to the neighborhood street network will be integrated over time. 

  • Saturday, September 11, 2PM-6PM (between St. Mark’s Avenue and Bergen Street)
  • Friday, September 17, 5PM-7PM (between Bergen Street and Dean Street)

An online town hall meeting is planned for October at a date to be announced.

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About the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council: Since its founding in 2004, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) has been the leading civic organization providing advocacy for neighborhood-wide issues on behalf of the residents and businesses of Prospect Heights. Its programs have engaged and received the support of thousands of community members in Prospect Heights and its environs. www.phndc.org

About Arup: Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. Working in more than 140 countries, the firm’s designers, engineers, architects, planners, consultants and technical specialists work with our clients on innovative projects of the highest quality and impact. www.arup.com