Any city or urban environment assures one thing – constant and rapid development. You can bet on that in New York City, thanks to many of its improvement-based groups.
On Thursday, January 15, seven winning organizations were honored by Small Business Services and New York City Economic Development Corporation at the Neighborhood Challenge Initiative at the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse, located on Third Avenue and East 161st Street alongside Brook Avenue.
The winning organizations, announced by Small Business Services Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and NYCEDC president Kyle Kimball, were chosen based on those that presented the most creative and impacting economic development and revitalization projects in their communities, giving each organization a chance to obtain a grant ranging up to $100,000.
The winners included two organizations based in the Bronx – No Longer Empty and Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, both of which are in partnerships with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
No Longer Empty, specifically based in Melrose and Morrisania, collaborates with local organizations, residents, civic leaders and businesses to ensure relevance and promote cultural vibrancy, publicly engaging with contemporary art through community-responsive exhibitions and education programs that revitalize underutilized properties.
The organization plans to open the vacant Old Bronx Borough Courthouse up to the community as early as this coming April, and was granted $60,000 by Neighborhood Challenge to do so, as it awaits a permanent tenants.
“Our organization brings urban planning and arts together at vacant properties such as this one,” said Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, executive director of No Longer Empty.
“For this organization, Neighborhood Challenge is an exciting opportunity to be working with partners to revive this beautiful historical building and to engage with local residents and citywide visitors in the south Bronx.”
Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, the other Bronx winner, specifically based in Mott Haven, is in the process of working on a project called ‘Pop-Up Concession Revenues’ at Roberto Clemente Plaza, located on East 149th Street and Third Avenue.
This project will develop a ‘best practice’ for concessions-based revenue generation in public plazas.
NPP was granted $100,000 by Neighborhood Challenge.
“Tremendous opportunities are unfolding in the Bronx, and at SoBro, we are honored and proud to be the recipient of resources that allow us to be an agent for change,” said Jamila Diaz, director of Industrial & Commercial Business Services for SoBro.
The Neighborhood Challenge, currently in its third year, is a competitive grant initiative designed to encourage innovation and service delivery improvements from business improvement districts, community-based organizations and community-based development organizations that will support small businesses, generate economic activity and attract more jobs and investments to local commercial corridors.
Since launching in 2012, Neighborhood Challenge has awarded nearly $1.1 million in grants to organizations for innovative projects across all of NYC’s five boroughs.