Restoration Plaza, which has been a community anchor for Bed-Stuy for the past 50 years, is poised for major changes. The complex on Fulton Street—which includes the recently renovated Billie Holiday Theatre, office space, commercial tenants, and the Brooklyn Business Center—will get an extensive revamp, helmed by British starchitect David Adjaye (late of 130 William Street, a condo tower going up in lower Manhattan).
The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (known as Restoration), the nonprofit that owns and operates the plaza, announced that it’s developed a five-year plan for the site, which includes adding 400,000 square feet of office space—a massive change from the current footprint—and improving the services it offers to local residents.
“As Brooklyn has transformed into a hub of new-economy jobs like tech and hospitality, it now must become our sacred mission to ensure residents of communities like Central Brooklyn, that have been subject to systemic and racial discrimination, have access to those opportunities and are supported in their desire to build assets and create wealth,” Colvin Grannum, Restoration’s president, said in a statement.
First, a little backstory: Restoration, which was the country’s first community development corporation, was established in 1967 with the help of then-senator Robert F. Kennedy and mayor John Lindsay to bolster the neighborhood’s economic and cultural development. Restoration Plaza opened five years later, and since then, has become a neighborhood hub. In addition to medical, economic, and educational services, the plaza is home to a huge grocery store, restaurants, the offices of several local politicians, and other important services.
The complex underwent a renovation in recent years, but the changes Restoration envisions are less about transforming the physical space and more about ensuring that area residents have access to the same types of resources found throughout the city. And as Bed-Stuy gentrifies, ensuring the success of longtime residents is critical. To that end, the corporation will establish several new organizations—including one focused on entrepreneurship, and another on community asset building—that they hope will ultimately help “disrupt and close the racial wealth gap.”
Restoration and Adjaye will work together on implementing a five-year strategic plan, but the organization says it will also be informed by local input. Neighborhood residents are encouraged to offer their vision for Restoration Plaza, and while a roadmap for the renovation has yet to be revealed, if any zoning changes are required, that will also give neighborhood residents a chance to weigh in.