By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — More than 100 members of the downtown community gathered Thursday morning to rename a north TriBeCa park in memory of Albert Capsouto.
Capsouto, a pioneering restaurateur and advocate for small businesses struggling after 9/11, died of a brain tumor last January at the age of 53.
"It's a tremendous tribute to a tremendous guy who did so much and gave so much of himself," Assemblywoman Deborah Glick said before she and other local politicians unveiled the new sign Thursday at CaVaLa Park, which opened last year and was initially named for the streets that bound it: Canal, Varick and Laight.
In addition to helping his brothers run the Capsouto Frères French bistro on Washington Street for nearly 30 years, Capsouto fought to bring more green spaces to TriBeCa.
As chairman of Community Board 1's TriBeCa Committee, Capsouto was an early advocate for the park. The $3.4 million green space includes a fountain sculpture, a curving path, benches and plantings.
Standing inside the triangular park Thursday morning, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said he had never seen such an outpouring of support for a renaming.
"It was the kind of effort that would have made Albert happy," said Bruce Ehrmann, who chaired the CB1 task force that sought the park's renaming.
Jacques and Sammy Capsouto, Albert's older brothers, both had tears in their eyes as they spoke to the crowd Thursday morning.
Sammy Capsouto gazed up at the clear sky and addressed Albert directly.
"Your friends are here," Sammy said. "Your family is here. Your colleagues are here. Everybody you touched is here. The only thing I can really say to you is as a brother: Albert, you did good."