Businesses on Belmont Avenue in Brownsville face challenges that prevent them from thriving. While rents are perceived as affordable, it has not translated to commercial stability. According to a Commercial District Needs Assessment completed by Made in Brownsville, there is a 41% vacancy rate along the commercial corridor. As rising rents displace residents and small businesses throughout New York City, there is also a fear of dramatic changes to the cultural fabric of Brownsville.
Hester Street is collaborating with the Brownsville Community Justice Center and the New York City Department of Small Business Services to support the planning phase for a Neighborhood Incubator Project that will identify and support budding entrepreneurs in the community and also to support youth development. Through a series of site specific analyses, feasibility studies, and community engagement, the planning process will culminate in a pop-up storefront holiday market that will showcase the wares and talents of entrepreneurs and local youth. The initial phase of the project aims to connect budding entrepreneurs to long-term local businesses, pilot a multi-dimensional commercial and community space on Belmont, and build and strengthen community. Once completed, we will work with the Brownsville Community Justice Center to identify needs for existing businesses, start-ups, young entrepreneurs and potential consumers, providing them the tools needed to make a successful Neighborhood Incubator.