Activity expected to increase in Brooklyn

Activity expected to increase in Brooklyn

Progress on projects revealed

Although the redevelopment of Riverside’s Brooklyn neighborhood appears to be slow going at first glance, a central part of the redevelopment, Unity Plaza, has finalized its first phase of construction. According to sources, two of the Plaza’s three restaurants are in their final construction and slated to open this fall. In addition, two more restaurants at neighboring Brooklyn Station will be opening later this month.

Restaurants plan fall openings

One of several things that will be coming to fruition this fall at Unity Plaza is the heavily anticipated opening of Sbraga’s & Co. The Plaza’s other dining tenant, who also owns Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails downtown, recently announced they will be opening a restaurant this fall called Hobnob, which will feature a new concept in Jacksonville dining.

Later this fall, expect to see the groundbreaking of a large, gourmet grab-and-go kiosk on Riverside Avenue and Forest Street designed by celebrity Chef Kevin Sbraga, according to Jennifer Jones, president and executive director of Unity Plaza Amphitheater and Urban Park. In addition, Jones said there are two medium-size kiosk concepts in the works for the corner of Forest and Magnolia Streets. Those proprietors will release more details in September, Jones said.

The Brooklyn Station retail spaces are also seeing activity as Pink Nickel and Navy Federal recently held their openings. According to Eric Davidson, Regency Centers spokesperson, Burger Fi will open this month and Zoe’s is expected to open in mid- to late-August.

Unity Plaza to launch fundraising campaign

Jones said major fundraising to be launched this fall will include a capital campaign to obtain sponsorships from corporations to assist Unity Plaza, in bringing some of the additional elements and amenities to the Plaza. The nonprofit Unity Plaza will also reach out to the community for support.

Sponsorship opportunities include a band shell shade structure and iron tree gates in the plaza walkway, as well as a brick naming campaign is also planned to start this fall, Jones said.

“Like the thousands of beloved outdoor public squares, plazas and parks managed by nonprofit entities throughout our great nation, the items designed for Unity Plaza to bring public enjoyment and education are opportunities for community members to aid the nonprofit in delivery of these elements and receive naming rights for doing so,” explained Jones.

Residential update

A new 213-unit apartment building near Brooklyn Station and 220 Riverside is still in the works, according to Alex Coley, developer and Principal/Co-Founder with NAI Hallmark Partners. As of now, the project is still being called 200 Riverside and Coley could not elaborate on any further details at this time.

A few blocks over from Unity Plaza on Magnolia and Stonewall Street, the last two of the seven buildings under construction at The Brooklyn Riverside apartments will be completed this month and in mid-September. When complete, there will be 310 units total. According to a representative of the property, the current apartments which began leasing in March, are at about 40 percent occupancy.

Phase two highlights

Unity Plaza’s backlit signage will be installed this month and a 65-foot tall lotus flower sculpture in the center of Unity Plaza’s pond should be in place by the end of the year. Plans also include decks with tables and chairs to be installed over portions of the water, a catwalk to connect the 200 and 220 Riverside buildings, a parking garage on Forest Street and a botanical garden near a future hotel on the corner of Magnolia and Forest Streets.

Events unfolding, continuing

Currently at Unity Plaza, daily fitness classes such as yoga, guided meditation and financial wellness classes are offered free to the community. Jones said they have seen attendance at these events range from five to 60, depending on the time of day. She said the Plaza has hosted more than 20,000 people during the construction of the park’s first phase.

By Marian Johns
Resident Community News

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