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Marty on the state of Bklyn

With the cruise ship terminal working in Red Hook, and Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Yards about to break ground, what’s next on Borough President Marty Markowitz’s plate? Try the renovation of the long-dormant Loew’s Kings Theatre in central Brooklyn and an Amphitheatre at Asser Levy-Seaside Park in Coney Island. And for dessert, the Beep, known for a hearty political appetite, might just try running for mayor. All was in evidence as Markowitz gave his annual State of the Borough Address last week before several thousand people at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Steiner Studios. “What we now proudly proclaim ‘The Brooklyn Renaissance’ has evolved from a well-kept secret to front-page news across America,” bragged the borough’s top cheerleader. “In fact, last month the internationally-respected Lonely Planet travel guide named Brooklyn one of the hottest tourist destinations in the entire world. Brooklyn has become a destination of choice for tourists — and if they want to take a day trip to Manhattan — okay,” he added. Markowitz noted these tourists might come off the Queen Mary II or Crown Princess cruise ships, or even the new Queen Victoria that now makes Brooklyn a port of call in Red Hook. “With plans for a second cruise terminal at Pier 10, and hopefully, making Brooklyn a port of call one day, this terminal signals real investment in Red Hook and our working waterfront,” said Markowitz. Markowitz also continued to cheer on the controversial Atlantic Yards project which includes 16 skyscrapers and an arena to house the Nets NBA basketball team as well as other events. “Last month, we learned that Barclays, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, will kick off its expansion in America by investing $400 million to name the Atlantic Yards arena the Barclays Center,” said Markowitz. “The naming of the Barclays Center is a major step toward making one of my own dreams for Brooklyn a reality,” he added. Markowitz pointed out that the project will not only include thousands of apartments for Brooklynites of all incomes, but new jobs for residents of every skill level with many being solid union jobs. The project will also feature eight acres of open space, a new school, shopping, a boutique hotel, and world-class architect Frank Gehry designing it — all above one of the largest public-transportation hubs in the metropolitan region. “Atlantic Yards will help create the new center of city life that our borough of 2.6 million residents deserves,” he said. Speaking of growth, Markowitz that Brooklyn’s population is estimated to be adding more than 300,000 residents, or the size of the city of Buffalo, by 2030. As such, Markowitz said smart planning on where to grow, such as near mass-transit hubs, is needed. On the flip side, where not to grow is also needed, he said. “It means transforming main streets like 4th Avenue and Flatbush Avenue into our grand boulevards of the 21st century, while protecting the unique character of our residential neighborhoods,” Markowitz said. “It means spurring development on thriving commercial streets like Broadway in Bushwick, Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, Fulton Street in Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, and Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie,” he added. Markowitz said a key to accommodating the growth is also making sure that more affordable and senior housing also be built and maintained. “I’m happy to report that more affordable housing is indeed on the way,” he said. “In East New York and Brownsville, 2,200 lower-income homes will be constructed as part of the expansion of Gateway Estates, and the thriving Gateway Plaza shopping mall will also double in size.” Markowitz mentioned similar affordable housing now being built on Vanderbilt Avenue near Steiner Studios on the former “brig” site, as well as in Coney Island and Sunset Park. “As we create new affordable housing, we must also preserve what we already have,” he said. “Sometimes that requires a fight — and a fight may be what it takes to preserve the affordability of the nearly 6,000 apartments at Spring Creek — which will always be known to Brooklynites as ‘Starrett City,’” Markowitz added. Markowitz unveiled plans to build the city’s first state-of-the art, covered, outdoor performing arts venue amphitheatre at Asser Levy-Seaside Park in Coney Island (see sidebar). Markowitz also vowed to continue work on the Loew’s Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue near Erasmus Hall High School. “It has been empty for the last 30 years — but empty it shall be no longer!” Markowitz declared. “We can restore the Loew’s Kings to its original splendor, and establish a beautiful landmark venue that combines the Apollo and Beacon Theaters into one,” he said. Finally, in winding down his speech, the term-limited Markowitz, who will leave office in two years, hinted at a possible run for mayor. “Now, I don’t need a fortune cookie to tell me Brooklyn’s future looks good, but with term limits looming — what about my future?” he asked rhetorically. “I guess there’s only one way to find out. If it’s good for Brooklyn, it’s good for New York City,” he said.

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