Underside of Brooklyn Bridge to Get Shipping Container Spruce-Up

Rendering of shipping container concession on Frankfort Street, near the Rose Street bridge underpass. Tables, chairs and planters will be added to the area. Rendering: NYC Department of Transportation 

Jun. 26, 2017

The city is bringing a “new and hip style of architecture” to the less-than-alluring underside of the Brooklyn Bridge.

That’s how a Department of Transportation official described the shipping container-turned-concession stand that is slated to be installed in mid-July on the Frankfort Street sidewalk, near Gold, next to the bridges arched underpass.

Called an El Box, the container is an experiment of the El-Space program, a partnership between the city and the Design Trust for Public Space. Their mission is to bring some life to otherwise dreary and underused spaces beneath the city’s bridges and elevated subways and train lines. This will be the program’s pilot foray into the use of shipping containers, an increasingly popular mode of pop-up retailing.

The 20-by-8-foot container will be an outpost for some Seaport restaurants to sell light food and drinks to workers and other passersby in the area. It will remain there at least through December, according to the DOT’s Nick Pettinati, who presented the plan recently to a Community Board 1 committee. (The site, now used for NYPD parking, is slated for construction as part of the bridge restoration.) Each business will occupy the concession for up to 29 days, though not necessarily consecutively.

“There’s a lot of potential to see if we can activate the space and make it something that’s useful,” Pettinati said, noting the “pretty hefty population” of workers in the area.

The plan includes adding planters, tables and chairs and possibly programming the space with movie screenings and other activities, to be overseen by The Old Seaport Alliance, a local business group. The Alliance also will help select the participating vendors and provide the city with feedback on the concession’s success. Businesses will not be charged a rental fee.