By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn is developing faster than most of its residents can keep up with, but the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is paying close attention. It honored 13 construction and renovation projects during the 15th annual Building Brooklyn Awards ceremony at the Kings Theatre on Tuesday night.
“The Building Brooklyn Awards recognizes all the great projects in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura. “From high rises to low rises, to theaters, to parks, to culture, to music, to a little bit of everything. The geographic diversity for this event is critical. It can't just be Downtown Brooklyn. It has to represent the entire borough, and we're thrilled tonight that we have projects all across the borough.”
The construction and renovation projects honored on Tuesday included The Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel Extension, 156 Broadway, the BRIC Arts Media House, Steiner Studios, the St. Joseph’s College Hill Center, the Kings Theatre, the Pratt Engineering Quad, the Duggal Greenhouse, 1000 Dean and Berg’n, TD Bank Georgetown, the Cypress Village Homes and 388 Bridge St.
In addition to honoring the 13 projects, the Chamber recognized Purnima Kapur, the executive director of the New York City Department of City Planning, and Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City. Purnima was honored for her work at the City Planning Department and Kimball for his work with the Brooklyn Navy Yard and now Sunset Park’s Industry City, which Scissura called the “largest commercial development in the country,” at nearly 6 million square feet.
“Some 25 years ago, I came out of the Brooklyn Borough Hall station onto Court Street not realizing that this would be my professional home for years to come,” Purnima said. “Over the past decade, the successful collaboration of the public and private sector has allowed Brooklyn to emerge as a center of vibrant culture.”
“All of us in this room over the last 10-20 years have played a role in stitching together the remarkable fabric that is the new Brooklyn,” Kimball said. “There were bumps in the road, but increasingly it has become a beautiful tapestry. I have been blessed to work on two massive projects. In a lot of ways it has benefitted from this extraordinary thing where it's cool to make things again.”
Many local politicians were on hand to congratulate the winners and give speeches, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, his predecessor Marty Markowitz, Lt. Gov. of New York Kathy Hochul, Assemblymembers Jo Anne Simon, Roxanne Persaud and Peter J. Abbate, and Councilmember Mathieu Eugene. Many of them also took time to appreciate the Kings Theatre up close.
“You look at this beautiful edifice and realize that it was only several years ago when it was filled with dirt and grime,” Adams said of the Kings Theatre. “It just needed someone with a vision to understand that it is a beautiful edifice that just needed some polishing.”
Markowitz spoke at length about the theatre, which he helped revitalize. He spoke about his first date with his wife, whom he took there, what it was like back in the day, as well as the propensity of Brooklynites to mispronounce its name as the Loew's Theatre (he pronounced it Low-ease).
“In many ways [the Kings Theatre] reflected some of the struggles of Brooklyn and of urban America [at the time when it was closed],” Markowitz said. “They wanted to rip it down, make it a mall and throughout it all it remained empty. Eventually Brooklyn showed that it knows how to preserve theatres. Now it is the center of culture, life, jobs and a catalyst of the revitalized Flatbush Avenue.”