Neighborhoods Now: Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
This work is part of Neighborhoods Now, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.
Completing a neighborhood assessment to understand the challenges and opportunities for small businesses.
Launched in Spring 2020, Neighborhoods Now is a collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute to connect NYC neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with design firms in our collective network. Over three years, the initiative evolved from rapid, tactical responses to long-term recovery strategies on a wider scale. Led by community organizations, seven interdisciplinary teams have enlivened and programmed public space, provided technical support to small businesses, and strengthened cultural activities.
The Northwest Bronx team is led by Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC). Early on in the pandemic, the team focused on support for small businesses and community organizations shifting to outdoor operations. In 2022, the team completed a neighborhood assessment to understand the current challenges and opportunities for small businesses and tenants in the immediate vicinity of the Kingsbridge Armory as it undergoes a potential redevelopment.
Small Business Support: In summer 2020, the team organized a seminar for small businesses on how to apply for relief loans. The team built out colorful and eye-catching outdoor dining setups for local restaurants Tropical Rotisserie and Salento Restaurant.
Community Cleanup: In October 2020, the team organized Kingsbridge Day!, a day of service to spruce up the streets of Kingsbridge and highlight ongoing sanitation issues exacerbated by municipal funding cuts during the pandemic. Local residents and volunteers from across the city cleaned up litter and the nearby Aqueduct Walk Park, while a tree planting demonstration encouraged residents to imagine a neighborhood with more street trees to help combat heat vulnerability. Bronx-based graffiti artists Tats Cru created a mural installation celebrating the neighborhood’s identity.
Organizing for Equitable Development: To draw attention to an unsafe sinkhole in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, the team created a design installation on fencing that surrounds the Armory. The installation then served as a backdrop for a rally hosted by NWBCCC which called for transparency, accountability, and co-governance of the Kingsbridge Armory engagement and redevelopment process.
Looking Forward… NWBCCC is now co-chairing NYC’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) community working group that will inform the redevelopment of the armory. The needs assessment will be a key tool in their advocacy for equitable development with the public, elected officials, and sister organizations.