Bedford-Stuyvesant public plaza to be renovated with community input

The Brooklyn restoration corporation is soliciting ideas for its revamp of a public plaza. 
The Brooklyn restoration corporation is soliciting ideas for its revamp of a public plaza.  Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

A Bedford-Stuyvesant nonprofit wants Brooklynites to gather around a public plaza and guide a makeover of the neighborhood hub.

The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., which aims to overcome inequalities in Central Brooklyn, announced Tuesday that it will team up with the prominent architect Sir David Adjaye to renovate Restoration Plaza, located on Fulton Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues. In tandem with the revamp, Restoration Corp. said it intends to expand its offerings by growing its economic development services and displaying art.

Colvin Grannum, the president of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., said the organization will seek input from Brooklynites over the next few weeks and months on its five-year plan for the plaza. 

"We are committed to working with local residents to create a campus that will serve as an anchor for the economic justice of our neighborhood, and a symbolic cultural center of the Black community,” Grannum said in a statement. 

The corporation was established in 1967 and was one of the first community development corporations founded by black members. 

The nonprofit opened the 300,000-square-feet plaza in 1972 at the site of a former milk plant. The area is now home to an Applebee’s, office space, the Billie Holiday Theatre, Restoration Dance Theatre and the Skylight Art Gallery. 

Over the next five years, the nonprofit will add another 400,000 square feet of office space and cultivate three other goals or "centers of excellence." These include financial health services, an art project featuring African-inspired works and a community asset building program aimed at helping lower-income residents benefit from nearby development.

"It’s our mission and responsibility to ensure that those jobs go to Brooklynites of color who define and built this community," Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. board chairman Kevin Chavers said in a statement. 

The corporation said Adjaye, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, will retain the open-air feel of the plaza, allowing residents and visitors alike to enjoy a breather in a friendly place. 

Adjaye, an African-born, British resident, said he was honored to take on the project because he was impressed with the nonprofit’s decadeslong track record.

"Restoration has a long history of setting a high standard for the advancement of African American and Caribbean residents who built Central Brooklyn and poured their soul into the community," Adjaye said in a statement.