Plans unveiled for David Adjaye’s Restoration Plaza revamp in Bed-Stuy

February 17, 2023

Renderings courtesy of Adjaye Associates

Plans to transform Brooklyn’s Restoration Plaza into a global cultural and economic hub were unveiled this week. Non-profit Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation on Thursday released renderings and new details of its plan to reimagine its headquarters with an 840,000-square-foot mixed-use campus designed by renowned architect Sir David Adjaye. The plan expands and modernizes existing space, adds office and retail space, and creates new public open space in the heart of Bed-Stuy. According to the developer team, the Innovation Campus is a direct response to the country’s racial wealth gap, particularly the economic barriers Black New Yorkers face in Brooklyn.

“The design of Innovation Campus taps into Bed-Stuy’s vibrant culture to create a place-based model to disrupt the racial wealth gap,” Adjaye said in a statement.

“Based on extensive community engagement sessions, the design scheme prioritizes the public realm and ensures dedicated space for collaboration between mission-aligned partners. We look forward to seeing the campus become a reality and model for others as Restoration moves the transformative plan forward.”

The planned Restoration Innovation Campus includes an upgraded and expanded cultural center, set to become a state-of-the-art hub for artists and local cultural leaders. The new building will have a publicly-accessible rooftop and space for cultural programming and events.

The Billie Holiday Theatre will receive a makeover and major expansion in order to host a mix of performances. Additionally, the public plaza will be redesigned to be more walkable, seamlessly connect parts of the campus, and serve as a flexible outdoor forum.

A new 16-story building and a 13-story building will add more than 600,000 square feet of Class A office space for “mission-aligned impact partners” from the private, nonprofit, and government sectors, according to THE CITY. The complex will also create new jobs offering competitive wages, with 190,000 square feet of new retail space.

Construction of the campus is planned in phases, beginning with the creation of the new 13-story building along New York Avenue. Restoration will make an effort to temporarily relocate as many programs as they can during the construction. The entire project will take roughly eight years to complete.

The estimated cost for the first phase of construction ranges between $150 and $175 million, with the city already committing $50 million, as Blondel Pinnock, president and CEO of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, told THE CITY.

“There is no better place to begin disrupting the racial wealth than Central Brooklyn,” Colvin Grannum, senior advisor and former president of Restoration, said. “While Bed-Stuy has long served as one of the cradles of African American culture, it is also a testament to the systemic obstacles Black Americans face nationwide.”

“With Innovation Campus, we’re shining a spotlight on the rising racial wealth gap, and offering a replicable, self-funding model for Black communities across the country to close the gap and build wealth locally.”

Established in 1967 by Sen, Robert F. Kennedy and Mayor John Lindsay, Restoration was created with the purpose of improving Bed-Stuy’s economic and cultural development. Restoration Plaza opened in 1972, and it has since served as a hub for medical, economic, and educational services, as well as a grocery store, restaurant space, and office space for local politicians.

During its first decade of operation, Restoration spent $63 million in government, philanthropic, and corporate funding to give thousands of Central Brooklyn residents job training and employment, build and restore housing, and offer mortgages, according to the New York Times.

Now, Restoration faces the challenges caused by gentrification, which has driven rents up and has made it nearly impossible for longtime Bed-Stuy residents to afford to live in the neighborhood. The median rent for Bed-Stuy is currently $3,250/month, according to CityRealty.

More than 5,900 apartments have been constructed in Bed-Stuy within the past 10 years, yet only 13 percent were marketed for low-income earners, according to a 2019 study by the Furman Center.

Starting in 2019, Adjaye worked alongside Restoration to develop a five-year strategic plan, taking input from community members and hearing their vision of the plaza’s future.

Feedback from the community revealed residents wanted a center that would increase the net worth of Central Brooklyn’s residents through the tech-driven economy, celebrate and preserve Bed-Stuy’s cultural identity, and make Restoration and its programs sustainable for the future, according to the project’s page.

Since a rezoning is necessary, the project will go through the city’s review process, ultimately needing approval from the City Planning Commission and City Council to move forward.


Renderings courtesy of Adjaye Associates

Get Insider Updates with Our Newsletter!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *