A plaza certainly isn't a unique idea. But it is interesting that a plaza was first floated, as far as I know, in the UNITY 2007 workshop, an effort to update the community-driven UNITY Plan.
As I wrote in May 2007, "The corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues... nearly razed and scheduled to be turned into the Urban Room, could offer space for a plaza and greenmarket."
“Rather than increase the congestion around the Atlantic Terminal by adding even more density, we propose an alternative strategy that concentrates density at the Vanderbilt/Atlantic intersection,” the report said. “This will improve that currently underdeveloped intersection as well as create the opportunity for a large new public square at the Atlantic Terminal, providing an experience similar to Union Square.”
Well, not quite.
Interestingly, arena (co-)architect Gregg Pasquarelli, when the plaza was unveiled in September 2010, did liken it to Union Square, between two busy avenues. It's just not big enough to be an oasis.
It is notable, however, how the UNITY plan aimed to add streets and increase circulation. And add at least two schools, not just one.