Places that Matter

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

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Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Community development corporation founded in 1967 and still active today
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Place Matters Profile

Founded in 1967, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC) was the nation's first community development corporation, and was a model for hundreds of similar groups that followed around the country. In its local community, the BSRC has served as a linchpin organization, providing a vast array of services and building community capacity through its focus on economic, physical and social progress for Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Overview

The community organizing efforts of a broadbased coalition, the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, aided by Pratt Institute, laid the groundwork for the BSRC. Many of these activists accompanied Senator Robert F. Kennedy on his historic 1966 walking tour of Bedford-Stuyvesant. They challenged him to take action to improve the beleaguered neighborhood, not just study its problems. The BSRC was initially funded through a bi-partisan congressional "Special Impact Program." Moving quickly, in 1967 the newly formed BSRC purchased a full city block of industrial buildings on Fulton Street, which included a former milk bottling plant constructed in 1915 (decorative carvings of cows and milk bottles are still visible on the building's facade). The bottling plant became the BSRC's first offices along with a community center and auditorium.

In 1975, less than ten years after its formation, the BSRC expanded to fill the Fulton Street block through the creation of Restoration Plaza designed by the well-known firm of Arthur Cotton and Associates. This new facility, which combined historic and contemporary architecture, eventually included three-dozen stores--one of them, Pathmark, the neighborhood's first supermarket in 30 years. Also included in Restoration Plaza, which continues to thrive today, were cultural and recreational facilities as well as 70,000 square feet of office space.