Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC) President Colvin Grannum today announced the investment of $700,000 in City capital funds to create a more community and pedestrian friendly space with the long-term goal of transforming Restoration Plaza into a genuine "town center." Mayor Bloomberg, joined by Executive Director Matt Sapolin of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), also awarded BSRC a $95,000 ShopABLE grant, a program administered by SBS and MOPD that provides funding for retail districts to enhance the accessibility of their streets and storefronts for people with disabilities. In addition, the Mayor announced the selection of Garrison Architects as the architects to begin the first phase of renovations to the historic Restoration Plaza. Reverend Gary V. Simpson from Concord Baptist Church, Independence Community Bank Chief Executive Alan Fishman, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congressman Ed Towns and State Assembly Representative Annette Robinson also attended the announcement, which the Mayor made at the BSRC offices on Fulton Street.
"For 37 years, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation has been at the heart of our City's most vibrant neighborhood," said Mayor Bloomberg. "In the words of one of its earliest supporters, Senator Robert Kennedy, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation combined the 'best of community action with the best of private enterprise.' In our partnership with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, we are working to bring jobs and opportunity to the people of Bedford Stuyvesant. To that end, we are investing $700,000 in City capital funds to make Restoration Plaza more attractive and accessible. It's part of our five-borough economic development strategy to make every community in our City more livable, more business friendly, and more economically diverse."
"It's great to have the Mayor and so many friends and supporters out here today to celebrate an exciting new vision for Restoration Plaza," said Colvin Grannum. "I couldn't be more thrilled with the selection of Garrison Architects. Their plans for incorporating the neighborhood's rich history and culture are inspiring and certain to create a town center that the entire community will enjoy. This is a major step in our ongoing process of neighborhood revitalization."
"From its inception, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation has been about bringing people together to improve the neighborhood," said Commissioner Walsh. "This tradition has continued over the years, and it is once again what we celebrate today. Colvin Grannum has provided remarkable and inspiring leadership in this effort, and he has injected fresh vitality into this community as it continues to enjoy new growth and commerce."
"The Fulton Street Mall in downtown Brooklyn was the first grant recipient of the ShopABLE program, which the Administration set in place last year," said Executive Director Matt Sapolin of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. "As a result of the early success of the ShopABLE initiative the City has tripled the program's funding and ear-marked four grant recipients including the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation which will receive $95,000 to up-grade the entranceways to Restoration Plaza and its stores. The ShopABLE initiative proves that the private and public sector can forge partnerships that make commercial spaces more accessible to those with disabilities while simultaneously realizing an economic benefit for merchants."
"Restoration Plaza will soon be a destination where history, culture, entertainment and commerce can be enjoyed by the families of Bedford Stuyvesant," said James Garrison of Garrison Architects. "The entire project team, including urban designer Shawn Rickenbacker and landscape architect Judith Heintz, is extremely excited about transforming the existing structure and the functions of the plaza to reflect the optimism and creativity of today's Bedford Stuyvesant."
By enhancing the Plaza's exterior façade and entryways and creating a re-landscaped interior with new performance spaces and seating, residents, merchants and visitors will find a more inviting courtyard area that will bring together a community for retail shopping, celebrations of art and culture, to mark historical occasions and to enhance the sense of continuity on Fulton Street.
Restoration Plaza is a retail and office complex and courtyard on Fulton Street that was created in 1976 by adapting a former dairy and milk distribution center into an urban compound. The unique square bock construction by Arthur Cotton Moore has long been recognized for its diverse use of historic fabric and new construction to house commercial ventures, alongside social, cultural and educational programs and service organizations. Today, Restoration Plaza has more than 44 tenants including a new Super Foodtown and Duane Reade, Billie Holiday Theatre, Skylight Gallery, Restoration Youth Arts Academy, College of New Rochelle, Citibank, Chase and Washington Mutual. Super Foodtown, which invested more than $2 million to add 6,000 square feet to the space formerly occupied by Pathmark, is the Plaza's most recent arrival, employing more than 100 individuals. All told, new businesses in the Plaza including an Applebee's that will open in Spring 2005 account for more than 300 new jobs and over $6 million in investment.
The Department of Small Business Services makes it easier for companies in New York City to form, do business and grow by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, promoting financial and economic opportunity among minority- and women-owned businesses, preparing New Yorkers for jobs and linking employers with a skilled and qualified workforce.