Since 2014, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) has worked with the communities of Soundview, Bronx River, and Hunts Point to reimagine and reclaim 30,000 square feet of underutilized space under the Bruckner Expressway at Bronx River Avenue. 

YMPJ is partnering with Hester Street (HST) to transform this large, vacant space into The Soundview Economic Hub (SEH): a community-driven space at the nexus of food systems, health, and economic development. Activating this space will provide South Bronx residents, entrepreneurs, and food growers with a community-oriented hub to sell goods, offer services, provide resources, and connect people to employment and educational opportunities. 

In the fall of 2021, YMPJ and HST co-designed a community visioning process to shape the direction of the SEH. Through a series of focus groups, we gathered input from local residents, community groups, service providers, and YMPJ’s staff and members. Participants shared their priorities for the SEH, including desired programs, potential activities, and preferred design elements. They also identified potential key populations who could benefit most from the Hub. This feedback, along with precedent case studies of underpass transformations, helped to inform a conceptual reuse plan to develop the SEH into a valuable public asset for the community.

Throughout the visioning process, stakeholders emphasized that the SEH should build community power, support local artists and creatives, provide entry-level entrepreneurial opportunities, and improve pedestrian and bicycling access between neighboring communities, connecting the Bronx River Greenway to Soundview Park. Potential programming may include an urban farm/garden center, a public gathering space, a community kitchen, a business incubator, areas for skill-share workshops, a nursery/greenhouse that supports the Bronx River Foodway, and more. YMPJ’s future efforts involve piloting some of these programming ideas as they work toward the long-term vision of the SEH.