A former milk-bottling plant in Brooklyn turned office campus for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) in 1967 will be transformed by Adjaye Associates. Among the updates planned for the Fulton Street site, dubbed Restoration Plaza, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood are the addition of 600,000 square feet of office space, a remodeled public plaza, and an expansion to existing facilities, including the Billie Holiday Theatre.
Restoration launched in 1967 as the country’s first community development corporation, with a mission to make economic, cultural, and educational improvements in Brooklyn. The organization opened its operations in an old milk bottling plant. With a current footprint of 300,000 square feet, the former industrial site has grown into a small neighborhood that houses a theater, local businesses, a post office, bank branches, a grocery store, and office space for nonprofits and government agencies. Changes in the Brooklyn’s demographics led the organization to rethink its campus so it can better address the needs of a community facing racial inequality and skyrocketing rents.
In this upcoming expansion, the commercial site will become Restoration Innovation Campus, a global hub where nonprofit and government entities can work together to tackle the racial wealth gap through professional opportunities and job training. Plans for the reimagined campus began in 2019 with a series of community focus groups. These sessions produced a list of the project’s priorities, revealing the offerings of the improved campus. Among these items are drawing attention to the arts program, expanding job and education opportunities, adding public space, and attracting retail in line with the organization’s goals.
“Central Brooklyn is a microcosm of racial inequities reflected nationwide across our cities. With its focus on Black wealth creation, the Innovation Campus offers a new, replicable model for closing the wealth gap in communities across the United States,” said Blondel Pinnock, president and CEO of Restoration, in a press release. “For 55 years, Restoration has helped lift thousands of local residents out of poverty and created countless opportunities right here in our community. Now, the nation’s staggering racial wealth gap requires a bold, new approach—to harness Brooklyn’s economic growth to support wealth creation for our neighbors, particularly longtime residents and people of color. We look forward to working with local elected leaders and the residents we’ve proudly served for generations to realize this critical vision.”
The plan by Adjaye Associates for the site will bring its total size to 840,000 square feet. The architects’ plans for the site were drawn up following the feedback received from community input sessions and took into consideration the cultural makeup of Bed-Stuy.
Of the anticipated 840,000 square feet, 600,000 will be dedicated to Class A office space that will be conceived as a place where nonprofits, private organizations, and government entities can set up operations. Joining those workspaces are new offices for Restoration’s existing programs such as the Restoration Software Engineering Fellowship, Restoration Business Center, and the Center for Personal Financial Health, in addition to nearly 200,000 square feet of retail. These office spaces will be located across two new buildings, currently designed to be 16 and 13 stories in height respectively.
“The design of Innovation Campus taps into Bed-Stuy’s vibrant culture to create a place-based model to disrupt the racial wealth gap,” added architect David Adjaye, founder and principal of Adjaye Associates. “Based on extensive community engagement sessions, the design scheme prioritizes the public realm and ensures dedicated space for collaboration between mission aligned partners. We look forward to seeing the campus become a reality and model for others as Restoration moves the transformative plan forward.”
Other plans for the site include an expansion to the Billie Holiday Theatre, the 218-seat performance venue which comprises part of The College of New Rochelle’s Brooklyn Campus. Project renderings reveal a public plaza surrounding a transformed theater building featuring a scalloped facade. Adjacent to the four-story theater are the two towers which will replace existing brick and glass buildings from the 1970s.
Construction on the development will take place in phases. According to The New York Times the endeavor is anticipated to take ten years to complete and will enter a public-hearing stage within the Department of City Planning later this month.