Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

How a pioneering urban planner is shaping the face of Brooklyn today

Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, photographed on the roof of The Gotham, on Ashland Place (Photo by Erin Patrice O’Brien)

Taking risks, pursuing a vision, finding partners to make things happen. Sounds like the job description for an entrepreneur. But those traits can be found as well among people who foster a community in which business can thrive. Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, is an exemplar. A veteran urban planner, Myer is the driving force behind some of Brooklyn’s most influential rezoning and development efforts in recent years. Most notably? The transformation of Brooklyn Bridge Park from the abandoned industrial space of years past into the iconic cultural and recreational destination it is today.

A Long Island native who earned a master’s degree in economic development at the University of Michigan, Myer started her career as an intern in New York’s Department of City Planning, rising to director of the Brooklyn office in 1999. Of those early days, she says in our podcast (listen here or below): “Many people believed in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and believed in institutions like the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, and they felt that there was a future here.”

Myer became president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. in 2007, the same year the park’s long-anticipated first phase of construction was set to begin. In Myer’s nine years at the helm, the 85-acre expanse blossomed into a vibrant urban center of open green spaces, recreational areas, and several new and renovated commercial and residential spaces. “The first challenge was really proving that people would come to this beautiful park.” Myer says. “We had the ability to serve such a range of people with an incredibly diverse set of uses. That was a phenomenal signal that this park was a place for everyone.” Today, Brooklyn Bridge Park sees millions of visitors a year and has won numerous awards.

With the park project nearly complete, Myer took on her new role in 2016 as the champion of Downtown Brooklyn’s rapid evolution. A believer in the New Urbanist movement, Myer believes that “we shouldn’t set our sights on a suburban lifestyle–that we can live near where we work, with our friends with our families, and we don’t have to be in our cars all the time.” She hopes to bring this fervor of revitalization to projects like the Brooklyn Strand, an initiative to further develop the areas connecting Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge Park. You can read our earlier coverage of Myer here–By Kim Thornton