Highlights from Vision Session #1

Bed Stuy Restoration recently kicked off its community planning process with its first visioning session on March 26th, 2019 at Restoration Plaza. Restoration President Colvin W. Grannum opened the session with remarks about Restoration’s history and the objectives of its five-year strategic plan, followed by a discussion moderated by Russell Crader from Adjaye Associates that was centered around the Plaza, its current design, and the topic of open space.

As part of Restoration’s 5-year plan to help disrupt and close the racial wealth gap, community members were invited to come discuss the pedestrian experience and activities at Restoration Plaza. Existing issues highlighted included accessibility challenges, security and night usage, and seating and seasonal implications of the space. Participants also discussed historical memories of Restoration Plaza, including the old ice skating rink and attending concerts on the Plaza.

Highlights from Vision Session #2

At Bed Stuy Restoration’s second visioning session on April 15th, members of the community shared their memories and opinions of the Plaza and ways that the space could be improved for future use. Many shared their historical recollections of coming to Restoration Plaza to enjoy the arts, but also acknowledged that major accessibility issues are holding it back from reaching its full potential. As one session attendee put it, “Although there’s great programming here, the Plaza looks uninviting, and if I didn’t know what was there, I likely would never think that it was for me.”

Overall, the members of the community agreed that culture and the arts should continue to play an anchor role at the future site, alongside uses that create economic opportunities, especially for youth.

Highlights from Vision Session #3

At Bed Stuy Restoration’s third visioning session on May 6th, members of the community broke into groups to share their ideas on the types of resources they’d like to see made available at Restoration Plaza. We heard a lot of great ideas from everyone in attendance about the types of educational programs, retail, office, and community spaces that would benefit the neighborhood most. Some of the most popular suggestions included more diverse after-school programming for youth, and business courses in real estate, tech, and financial literacy.

“A lot of our best and brightest students from the neighborhood end up going away for school,” said a session attendee. “How can we preserve the education programs in our community to keep those young people here?”

Suggestions we heard for the retail spaces included more food options like farmers markets, healthcare suppliers, and new clothing store options, while the ideas we heard for new office spaces included a range from small business incubators to production studios for artists, filmmakers, and podcasters. As part of our strategic plan to help disrupt and close the racial wealth gap, we will take all of these ideas into consideration to provide resources and programming that will best serve the neighborhood.

This summer, we will also be hosting additional vision sessions directly with our youth populations – another suggestion that arose out of previous groups. Stay tuned for more details on those soon, and be sure to take our online survey to share your ideas for Restoration Plaza.