It's been three years since construction began on Restoration Plaza on Fulton Street.
In December 2010, , and we were told to expect a January 2011 unveiling.
Well, it's July. Some scaffolding is still in place, fences are still up, and... we're still waiting.
“We’ve lost a lot of customers because of the construction,” said Pmaisha Thomas, Manager at Avenue, a women’s clothing store located within the plaza.
“I really want to know when this construction will be completed and it can go back being what it once was,” said Donald Robinson, a Bed-Stuy native.
For a long time because of construction, the only entrance to the large outdoor plaza was at Herkimer Street or by walking through Restoration Corporation and then out the back door.
Construction on the Plaza was part of a larger initiative to renew and revitalize the Fulton Street shopping district.
The concept for the estimated $10 million project began five years ago, when the BSRC started looking for funding from public and private donors.
“Initially the project should have taken two years straight through, foregoing any interruptions,” said Dyrnest Sinckler, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Restoration. “Everybody wants it to be done. But we have committed ourselves to completing this project, whatever it takes.”
Sinckler cited several reasons for current delays in the project, including funding issues and requirements, a change in building contractors, unforeseen site conditions, and weather conditions.
In charge of the much-needed upgrade is Garrison Architects, an architectural firm that won accolades for its redesign plans for Grand Army Plaza.
“Restoration Plaza is an older building, it requires a lot to fix. A lot of work is needed to stabilize certain parts of the building,” said Jim Garrison, President of Garrison Architects. “When we tried to fix one thing, we realized 10 other things needed to be fixed as well along with it,” said Garrison.
However, Garrison said the biggest reason for the delay was from the change in building contractors -- who are in charge of the actual construction. The original contractor, ‘Legacy Construction’ exhausted its funding for labor and material costs during the height of the recession and became insolvent.
The contractor involved with the project now is ‘Procida Construction,’ best known in Brooklyn for its construction of a giant glass condominium located at 1 Grand Army Plaza, among other projects around New York City.
Sinckler called Procida a “stellar” company, and both Sinckler and Garrison say the new contractor is an improvement over Legacy.
“The project is nearing completion; the last of the elements are being put in place,” said Garrison.
Some of what is planned for the plaza includes: an outdoor sound system and movie projector, new benches, a garden, and a giant wall of fame that will light up at night and include the names of influential Bed-Stuy natives such as Shirley Chisholm, Lena Horne, Connie Hawkins and more.
As of now, there is still no set-in-stone completion date. Garrison said it should only be a few more months, but did not go in to any further detail.
Sinckler said that everything is contingent upon when the final component arrives, which is the glass steel panel that will hang from the outside of the building displaying all of the names. He said the project should be finished sometime in October/November of this year.
The Plaza has begun to open up now though, with full access to all stores from all entrances again, and most of the scaffolding is now down as well.
“People are happy that it has started to open up again. Applebee’s is particularly happy,” said Sinckler.
Even Thomas admits, the store is beginning to see a return in the flow of customers, slowly but surely.