Since 2015, Hester Street (HST) has been providing critical technical assistance to the grassroots, immigrant-led organization Make the Road New York (MRNY) for the capital development of their 25,000-square foot new construction community center in Corona, Queens. Upon project completion, the new facility will provide adequate and appropriate physical space to expand MRNY’s programs, reduce operations costs and administrative burden and secure MRNY’s place and critical services in the neighborhood for years to come.

In the first year of the project, HST conducted a participatory space needs assessment to inform the preliminary architectural program. We analyzed viable sites based on zoning, land use, ownership data and financial and architectural feasibility; developed a financing plan and budget; and negotiated with private lenders. We supported MRNY’s successful application for $5.6 million in City Capital funds and secured a commitment for more than $10 million in private financing. In August 2016, MRNY closed on the acquisition of a 10,000-square foot vacant lot in Corona.

In year two of the project, HST secured an architectural team and engaged staff and MRNY members in participatory design workshops to ensure the space will meet the needs of MRNY’s constituents. Since then, we have worked to secure additional funding, including New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC). We also helped secure a general contractor, closed on construction in the summer of 2018, and finally broke ground in February 2019. Our team is supporting MRNY with ongoing construction and project management through to the Center’s anticipated ribbon-cutting later this year in 2024. The completed project will more than double MRNY’s programmable square footage in a community space that meets the needs of its constituents, as well as ensure MRNY’s longevity in the neighborhood and financial sustainability far into the future.