DUMBO — About a dozen elevated wooden benches could be added to a Dumbo Heights sidewalk, providing 15,000 square feet of public recreation space in an area that’s set to see a wave of increased foot traffic, according to local leaders.
The benches, which seat two to four people each, would be added to the north side of Sands Street between Jay and Adams streets, according to Alexandria Sica, the executive director of the DUMBO Business Improvement District.
The DUMBO BID presented the public seating proposal to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee Tuesday night as part of the Department of Transportation’s Street Seats program, which is intended to "transform underused streets" into vibrant, social spaces when it's warm.
Unlike other Street Seats projects which use parking space for the benches, the DUMBO benches would be distributed across the development’s newly-extended, 30-foot sidewalk.
The benches would add a recreational space for an area that is soon to see an influx of new activity as businesses start to move into the Dumbo Heights complex, according to Sica.
“This would create a brand new public space in an area where, if anyone has been there, it has a dearth of friendliness to it,” Sica said Tuesday. “This is a really exciting opportunity to bring some new life in there.”
The property along Sands Street, formerly owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, is part of the Dumbo Heights “high-tech urban campus” where companies like Etsy and WeWork have leased office space.
The development, operated by developer Kushner Companies and their partners RFR Realty and LIVWRK, is about 75 percent leased and will include design shops, a boxing gym, a yoga studio and at least four food service establishments, Sica said.
“I hope it’s going to be a transformative project where you’ll see people ... sitting there,” Sica said. “I think it’ll help ensure that these retail small businesses will be a success.”
The seasonal benches, which will stay outdoors 24 hours a day from March through December, would be installed by mid-summer, according to a spokesman for Kushner Companies.
CB 2’s Transportation Committee approved the proposal unanimously, with one abstention and no public opposition. The project will go before the full board Wednesday, May 11.