Restoration Plaza, the headquarters of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, takes up an entire block of Fulton Street.
A renovated theater and an art gallery are hidden inside. And on the ground floor there also exists a supermarket without windows.
Now, the corporation wants to reimagine this space to make it more accessible, mirroring the challenges that face the corporation itself.
It was founded to empower the black community, but that community is being pressured by powerful forces of gentrification and change.
“One of the things we’re concerned about is that as a borough like Brooklyn gentrifies, there are very few symbols of the contributions of people of color to the borough,” says Colvin Grannum, President of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
To highlight Restoration’s cultural significance it’s hired architect Sir David Adjaye, the lead designer of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington.
Senators Robert Kennedy and Jacob Javits, and Mayor John Lindsay founded Restoration in 1967 with a mission to revitalize Central Brooklyn. It became the template for community development organizations nationwide.
Now, houses are selling for more than $2 million here and rising rents are forcing many black families out.
“Our new mission is to relentlessly pursue strategies to close gaps and family and community wealth so that all families in Central Brooklyn are prosperous and healthy,” Grannum says.
That includes overhauling the Economic Solutions Center, remodeling the cultural spaces and trying to make better use of this enormous campus, perhaps through new development. The community is being asked to share their input so designs can take shape in the coming months.
“We’re really fighting for an inclusive economy and we want to put our facilities to that use,” says Grannum.
The next community meeting on Restoration Plaza’s re-design is scheduled for April 15th.