Last Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will invest $7 million for the first and second phases of the “Under the K” Park.
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will provide the nearly seven acres of land under the bridge to the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance (NBPA), which is leading the design and construction of the park.
The parks conservancy, which will eventually operate and maintain the space, can begin programming by next summer.
“The land parcel under the new Kosciuszko Bridge is going to be turned into a park featuring art, concerts, recreation and other public uses,” Cuomo said in a statement, “which will benefit the neighborhood for decades to come.”
The state will spend $1 million for the first phase, which involves creating the park’s perimeter, laying asphalt and creating pedestrian paths.
Another $6 million will be for the second phase, including elevating specific parts of the park, installing seating areas, planting trees and designing and planting landscaped gardens.
Cuomo, along with Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, made the announcement last week just two days before the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge opened to traffic. The bridge now includes a pedestrian and bike path for both the Queens and Brooklyn sides.
“This new project to transform space under the Kosciuszko Bridge into a public open space is exactly what this community needs,” Lentol said in a statement. “Not only will this versatile space encourage New Yorkers to spend more time outdoors, it will serve our community through artistic programs, youth programs and entertainment for all ages.”
NBPA, using a grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF), hired the Toronto-based urban design and landscape architecture firm PUBLIC WORK to create a preliminary design for “Under the K” Park.
The firm previously designed The Bentway, a linear park under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, which then became a major cultural attraction.
The park conservancy also hired HR&A Advisors, a real estate and economic development consulting firm to figure out funding sources for the project.
In the preliminary design of the park, “Under the K” is broken into four different spaces. “The Arm,” a linear promenade, connects visitors coming off the bridge into the park.
“K-flex 1” serves as a multi-use space for programming and activities, while “K-flex 2” would be used for larger-scale events like concerts and performances. The final space, “Creekside,” connects visitors to the edge of the Newtown Creek.
NBPA plans to use the park for not only cultural and recreational purposes, but also environmental education, large-scape public art projects, cinema and performances.
“Under the K is a visionary project that transforms how cities can and should approach the development of new urban parkland,” said Katie Denny Horowitz, executive director of the parks alliance. “Its innovative approach to open space mirrors the innovation of the new Kosciuszko Bridge itself.”