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 =collaborated 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 youth development. Through a series of site specific analyses, feasibility studies, and community engagement, the planning process culminated in a pop-up storefront holiday market that showcased the wares and talents of entrepreneurs and local youth. The initial phase of the project aimed to connect budding entrepreneurs to long-term local businesses, pilot a multi-dimensional commercial and community space on Belmont, and build and strengthen community. Hester Street is currently working 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.