By Helen Klein

After 20 years, it finally appears as if an idea pushed by merchants at Newkirk Plaza may come to fruition, as New York City Transit (TA) seriously considers the idea of changing the name of the station under the plaza from Newkirk Avenue to Newkirk Plaza. At the March meeting of Community Board 14’s Transportation Committee, which was held at the board office, 810 East 16th Street, Andrew Inglesby, the assistant director of government & community relations for the TA, told board members and merchants that he was “optimistic” that the name change could be effected. “To change a station name within New York City Transit is like moving a mountain,” noted Inglesby. However, he added, the idea of changing the station’s name had been favorably received during a meeting of the agency’s station naming committee. “Based on the response from the meeting, we are very optimistic that this is something that can be done,” Inglesby announced. “I can’t guarantee it 100 percent at this point but it is moving ahead internally.” The “ideal time” for the name change to be made would be in conjunction with the reconstruction of the Newkirk Avenue station, Inglesby said. That is being done as part of the Brighton Seven project, in which seven stations along the line are being rehabilitated, work that is expected to begin this fall and last three years. The plaza deck is also scheduled to be replaced. Why change the station name? Nick Correra, vice president of the Newkirk Plaza Merchants Association, explained that business owners on the plaza, “Felt that, since there were two Newkirk Avenue stations (one on the Brighton line and one on the 2 and 3 line), we never had our own identity, we were never on the map. Even people who lived in the neighborhood for years didn’t know there was a Newkirk Plaza.” Indeed, in a January 23rd letter, Correra made the case to the TA. “We feel strongly,” Correra wrote, “that the reconstruction (of Newkirk Plaza) offers the perfect context to re-launch the station with the correct name and identity. As it stands, residents, visitors and riders associate the subway station with Newkirk Plaza; therefore, renaming the station after the Plaza will reinforce its location and place in the community. Such a step will have a significant impact on the district; we will be viewed as a destination as opposed to a pass-through to Newkirk or Foster Avenues.” Robin Redmond, the executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation, (FDC) concurred. Redmond pointed out that Newkirk Plaza offers, “A unique experience, when you walk off the train not in the middle of a street but in the middle of a plaza that was the first of its kind in the country.” Renaming the plaza, along with the impending reconstruction, are just the first steps, she added, to reinventing the area. FDC is in the first stages of developing a Business Improvement District for the plaza, Foster Avenue and Newkirk Avenue, Redmond noted. One of its goals, she stressed, would be, “To bring some kind of cohesiveness to three shopping areas that right now are separate.” The long-awaited completion of the renovation of the plaza, Redmond added, will also add cachet to the neighborhood. “Hopefully,” she said, “this will be the last phase and the benches and planters will be able to be put up. Everyone has seen some of the new fencing, so they’ve seen what it can be like. It’s classically timely, in keeping with the Victorian style. “The renovation project is going to be huge, time-consuming and probably annoying to a lot of people,” Redmond added. “So, hopefully it can help people recognize that there’s a lot to see here.”

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