Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thinking about development on Franklin and Nostrand

Nostrand Park ran a great post today discussing and comparing the potential for commercial development on Nostrand and Franklin Avenues, something I've also tried to cover in two recent posts. I think they covered almost all of their bases, but that didn't stop me from writing a long response, a few pieces of which I'll recap here. The obvious ones are local demand on the part of new arrivals, easy transit access, and proximity to the wealthier areas to the west, but two others that struck me thinking about this tonight:

1. Franklin is actually pretty well-positioned for some spillover/drop-in traffic from the Heart of Brooklyn tourist attractions, including the Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Garden, and Prospect Park, especially since the closest 4 stop is right here. This works in two ways, the incidental and deliberate. Last summer, I sent four French tourists to Homage when they asked where they could find an American burger. As it turned out, they had come out on the 4 train to the Museum. Traffic from sources like them might be rare, but as word gets out about local establishments, people will also make a day of coming to visit the Museum or the Botanic Garden. Just think about how packed Franklin Park is on First Saturdays.

2. Franklin, measured storefront to storefront, actually has, on average, more sidewalk space (about 5-6 meters on each side) than road (about 10-10.5 meters across). Classon is similarly proportioned (as is Smith Street, though both the sidewalks and roadway are even smaller over there). By comparison, both Rogers and Nostrand are equally wide as Franklin in total (21-22 meters) but devote slightly more of their space to car traffic (12-12.5 meters) and, subsequently, less to pedestrian traffic. The numerical differences may seem slight, but phrased another way, Franklin has 20% more sidewalk than Nostrand. Along with bike lanes and bike-traffic road markings and Franklin's status as a rather minor thoroughfare if you're trying to actually get anywhere (the whole street is only 2.5 miles long), these ratios contribute to a more pedestrian-friendly Avenue.

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